Best of Newsy Pooloozi 2020 Oddball Stories and… it’s Xmas!!!
Dec 23, 2020 Episode 26
It’s Christmas! Find out what that means for our reporters around the world. Plus, it’s that time of the year when we take stock of the last twelve months and as a special Xmas treat we give you our wackiest and weirdest Newsy Pooloozi Oddball stories of 2020!
OPENING STING – LEELA: “New, new, newsy – Newsy Pooloozi!”
LEELA: Hello and welcome to Newsy Pooloozi – a whirlpool of news and information. I’m your host Leela Shivshankar Prickitt and this is my… Co-host, otherwise known as my mama, Lyndee Prickitt
MAMA: Hello, hello!
LEELA: As you might know we’re shaking things up, as we near the end of the year, with a look back on the best-of-the-best Newsy Pooloozi stories. But first – what’s that?
SFX ho, ho, ho
LEELA: You got it – it’s Christmas time!
MAMA: And since we’ve been featuring festivals around the world –
LEELA: Since we are the one-and-only world news podcast for kids –
MAMA: And by kids – mostly.
LEELA: With a little help from you to explain the complicated things from time to time. So, It’s time to talk Christmas!
MAMA: Which isn’t complicated, but sometimes “the reason for the season” does get a little lost in all the…
LEELA: Tinsel, lights, mistletoe! Singing carols! Eating treats! And the… presents!
MAMA: Yes, all of that, but Christmas is the time that Christians mark the birth of Jesus Christ.
LEELA: Christ – Christians – Christmas – get it?
MAMA: And because three wise kings were said to have visited baby Jesus in Bethlehem –
LEELA: With gifts!
MAMA: Yep – Christmas is also a time for –
LEELA: Presents! I mean… Giving.
MAMA: That’s right and as we heard last week – there was a bishop from a long time ago called Saint Nicholas who, was also known for –
LEELA: Presents! I mean giving gifts… To those in need.
MAMA: So yes it’s also the season of giving and receiving.
LEELA: (sings) Presents!
MAMA: And so many people who aren’t Christian also like to celebrate that part of Christmas too.
LEELA: And the shiny, tinkly bits too. I love Xmas…!
MAMA: So do I! So let’s hear how some of our reporters around the world celebrate this festival.
LEELA: And let’s start in America, where I have it on good authority that Porter Robbins – like many Americans – spends one Xmas with one side of his family and the next Xmas with the other.
That’s right, Leela.
Family is a BIG part of Christmas.
So we alternate between flying ALL the way across the country to be with my mom’s family one year and staying in LA with my dad’s family the NEXT year.
Either way I NEVER miss the Manhattan Beach fireworks display early in December that kicks off things here.
Except THIS year, of course, because of the pandemic it was called off.
I also usually go to the late Christmas Eve service at church and then go home and try really hard to sleep that night even, though I’m DYING to get downstairs and see what Santa has left me.
You gotta BELIEVE to receive!
LEELA: Good one, Porter!
MAMA: that’s right, Saint Nicholas might’ve lived and died long ago, but the magic of Santa lives on forever.
LEELA: As our North England reporter Maya Bull… knows only too well!
MAYA: Well, on Xmas morning, me and Aniya – Aniya’s my sister – we wake up with the rest of the family and we rush downstairs. And daddy goes first and the living room door is shut, so we’re all facing the other way and he opens it. And we rush in. And we all gather around the Xmas tree. And it looks so good because Santa’s brought us all those presents! And we also look at all the presents that other people have given us. After that we also look at Santa’s plate, that he’s – what he’s ate and what he drank and what the reindeer have ate (sic). We usually give him maybe some milk and mince pie and carrots for Rudolph. But this year we go a letter from Santa. So he’s told us that he would like some whisky this year, so this year we’re going to put out some whisky for him.
LEELA: Thanks, Maya. I bet you made Santa super happy!
MAMA: Now let’s go around the world to our Taiwan reporter Yuching Liu. For her family’s take on Xmas.
YUCHING: My family – which is me, my old sister and my parents – LOVE Christmas. Though it is one of many festivals we celebrate throughout the year. Usually, about a week before Christmas, we get put up an artificial tree in our living room. We decorate it – all over – with shiny balls, stars, lights and my favorite teddy bear. At the top we put star. Then on Christmas Eve we go to church in the evening and go to Xmas market at night. Sometimes my sister and I hug each other to be warm.
Christmas Day is quiet for us. We don’t really do much until dinner time. Then we eat a special Taiwanese feast. We have roast chicken, friend seafood, hotpot and some cakes. It is deeee-licious! Sometimes we will exchange the gifts with my friends after dinner. The happiest is when we get to open the gifts that we got for each other. And of course there is always something from Santa!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
LEELA: Thanks, Yu-ching. Well all this Christmas cheer has me in the mood for…
LEELA: I mean, TO give presents.
MAMA: give and you shall receive.
LEELA: Yay. So let me now start now – listeners here’s a Christmas treat for you … Our wackiest…
MAMA: and downright most peculiar.
LEELA: oddball stories of the year – enjoy!
ODDBALL STING – LEELA/MAMA/JACKSON: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? And odd ball, no doubt!”
LEELA: Or, should I say, odd animals!
LEELA: So usually naughty humans who steal things at night, quietly climb walls and silently stepping into windows, like a cat… are called cat burglars. But what about when the CAT is the thief!
And not a hungry little kitty stealing the odd chicken bone. Not even a frisky kitty stealing a toy.
But a cat with a thing for shoes!
Peeeee-yuuuuu! Well, that’s the story of Jordon, the fluffy black-and-white cat thief, who prowls his neighborhood in Pennsylvania, America, nabbing 2 or 3 pairs of shoes left outside every night!
His owner is overwhelmed and a little embarrassed with all the shoes showing up at her house.
So, she decided to put up a post, hoping to reunite her neighbors with their stolen shoes. Turns out, this isn’t just an American cat thing… All the way over in Germany there’s a sly fox doing the same thing!
A resident in a neighborhood in Berlin was so irked to discover his best running shoes were stolen, he posted something on his community page.
Only to find out, he wasn’t alone… Loads of people were wondering what had happened to their shoes.
So, this resident went on the hunt. He followed the fox into a thicket of bushes, crawling around for almost an hour… until he discovered the fox’s secret stash… of more than 100 shoes!
But one mystery still remains. Why shoes??? You can’t eat them. Not much anyway. Do they want to play with them? Doesn’t seem so. I think maybe they just… like the smell of feet!
MAMA: (laugh) Gross! I think maybe they’re just trying to keep up with the latest fashions!
LEELA: I don’t know… The picture I saw showed a lot of Crocs.
MAMA: You used to love Crocs…
LEELA: I did.
MAMA: Yes! Anyway, maybe it’s an animal thing. Foxes, Cats, Crocs… get it?
LEELA: Ha… Good one! Good one…
MAMA: Our lucky dip, just for the fun of it story is about a pub in Cornwall… that’s a place towards the bottom of England with great beaches and lots of farms…
LEELA: This place has an unusual, some might even say shocking, way to keep adults safe when they buy their drinks!
MAMA: Our south England reporter, Jackson Hosking, is going to tell us more…
LEELA: Take it away, Jackson.
JACKSON: Hey Leela, the pub is called the Star Inn and you’ll never guess what the Landlord, Jonny McFadden, who runs the pub, has put around the actual bar area to ensure good social distancing?!
Not ropes to cordon off an area. Not traffic cones. But an electric fence! Yes, I’m talking about the type of fence farmers use to keep sheep in their field! This is his way of preventing customers from getting too close when they pay for their pints or bottles of beer. It also stops them from sitting at the bar.
I have to say, I’ve been shocked by an electric fence before…. I threw my ball into a farmer’s field by mistake and tried to get it back… the sting from the electric fence felt like a really strong buzz!
Well, there is a big yellow danger sign on the electric fence in the pub in Cornwall that reads: WARNING – ELECTRIC FENCE!
Mr McFadden jokingly says that simply seeing this warning sign and the electric fence is enough to make sure his customers follow the latest government guidelines and keep a good distance from each other – just like sheep!
He’s also told us a little secret. The electric fence around the bar is NOT ACTUALLY TURNED ON!
But hey, nothing really shocks us these days, hey Leela?
LEELA: Ha, ha… Good one, Jackson! That story sure did give me a bit of a jolt!
MAMA: Do you feel charged up and ready to go…
LEELA: Got any more?
MAMA: Synonyms? Puns?
LEELA: Yeah! I’m a hungry puppy for puns.
MAMA: Hmmmm…. Buzzed?
LEELA: (laughs) Yeah… Oh! I got one: wired!
MAMA: Nice one. But now that we’re wired up… it’s time to say….
LEELA: Good wire! I
MAMA: Now a shocking tale of a pesky fly creating trouble in France.
LEELA: But as our Paris correspondent Louise Johansson reports, there IS an important lesson for all of us.
LOUISE: That’s right, Leela. This story might sound like something out of a silly old cartoon.
But the fact that it’s true… serves as a warning. Just a few days ago, a man in his 80s was sitting down for dinner at his home in the southwest of France.
Right as he was about to tuck in to his food, what should appear but a pesky old fly. No one wants to eat with a fly buzzing around. For a start they spit on your food in order to suck it up themselves and that’s just gross. But doing also means they can spread some diseases, around 65 in fact. From things that give you a funny tummy, like Salmonella and e-coli, to typhoid fever and cholera! So, it’s no wonder this man from the Dordogne region became irritated by a fly buzzing around him as he was trying to eat. So, he did what any sensible person would do.
He picked up his electric fly swatter to zap the pesky pest. Only……. he didn’t know his kitchen gas canister had a leak! And unfortunately, when stray gas meets a spark… it can cause an explosion.
Which is what happened, destroying the man’s kitchen and partly damaging his roof!
Amazingly, though, the man had a lucky escape. Only his had got burned. According to the media, the condition of the fly is not known. So, the moral of the story is… no matter how annoying and dirty flies might be… don’t use an electric zapper anywhere near a gas canister. Because you never know if there’s a leak that might cause an explosion. In France this is Louise Johansson reporting for Newsy Pooloozi.
LEELA: Thanks, Louise. Hey, Mama.
MAMA: Hey, Leela.
LEELA: What do you call a fly that’s ill?
MAMA: Oh, no…
LEELA: The flew. As in a fly that flew away.
MAMA: (laughs) Yeah, I get it.
LEELA: Woozers. Well, the second story is about as cheap as it comes. A cheap head-butt, to be exact.
MAMA: Ahhheemmm… Leela.
LEELA: But, Mama, really. I promise I’m not making this up. In the African country called Botswana, farmers have a BIG problem with lions.
SFX: Animals sound
LEELA: Not eating them but their cattle.
MAMA: Oh. And that means their livelihood, or the way the earn their money.
LEELA: Yeah, so you know what they do, Mommy? Hunt down the lions and kill them.
MAMA: Hmmmm, not surprised.
LEELA: But that’s kind of sad, too, because eventually they’ll be no more lions. Like what happened in India.
MAMA: Yep. Hunters killed most of India’s lions. Disease is killing the last few.
LEELA: Well, a team of conservationists
MAMA: Scientists who want to save or conserver wildlife.
LEELA: From Australia went to Botswana with a crazy idea. Mama, you read this…
LEELA: This is what Dr Neil Jordan from the group said…
MAMA: “Lions are ambush hunters, so they creep up on their prey, get close and jump on them unseen. But in one case, the impala (that’s the animal the lion was hunting) noticed the lion. And when the lion realized it had been spotted, it gave up on the hunt.”
MAMA: Ahhh… I get it, so if a lion’s prey – the impala or this case, the cow – looks at the lion, it’s game over. The lion goes away.
LEELA: Exactly. So that gave them a crazy idea…. What do you think they did?
MAMA: Well, given the cheeky phrase you used at the top of this report, I’m guessing –
LEELA: They drew an eye on each of the cow’s butt cheeks! Making it a…
MAMA: Head butt. (cough) Did it work?
LEELA: Well, a scientific study is underway. Half of a herd of cows is going to be stamped with the eyes to see if they make it back home each night. They’re also using fancy GPS devices to monitor the cows and lions, so they can learn more about where the cows are most at risk.
MAMA: You know, actually Leela, this isn’t the first time a predator goes away when it thinks it sees the eyes of its prey. Remember in your butterfly book it says there are some patterns resembling eyes on butterfly wings that are known to deter birds.
LEELA: Oh, yeah.
MAMA: And actually, now that I think about it, I’ve heard here in India, woodchoppers in the forest wear masks on the back of their heads to ward-off man-eating tigers. So, I guess the logic is the same. Wow.
LEELA: But this particular story is more than fascinating… It’s pretty cheeky too, wouldn’t you say?
MAMA: Cheeky chappy.
SFX Animals sound
LEELA: It’s time for the world of wow, wow, wow. In other words science! Wait… Or is it tech news?
MAMA: Or the odd ball?
LEELA: It’s all of those!
MAMA: Best of all… we literally get to use the word literally correctly!
LEELA: Yep, we have not one… not two
MAMA: Not even just three stories…
LEELA: But four! Four stories about science and technology, literally taking humanity “higher”!
MAMA: And they go from the plausible, like you can easily imagine it, to the ridiculous! Where should we start?
LEELA: Hmmmm… Let’s save the most ridiculous for last.
MAMA: OK. So, we’ll start with Japan a country known for its sharp technology and some of the fastest, smartest trains on earth. So, it’s no wonder they want to go faster and…
MAMA: That’s right. So, what have they done?
LEELA: Recently at a top-secret testing location, a pilot took off in a flying car!
MAMA: Yep, it’s actually about the size of two cars, but powered by 8 electric motors, with 4 little propellers – two in the front and two in the back. And more like helicopter than a plane, it takes off vertically. Do know what I mean by that?
LEELA: Up and down?
MAMA: Yep. So, it doesn’t need a runway. They reckon they’ll launch these flying cars in just two years!
LEELA: But mama, what’s the difference between a flying car and a really small plane?
MAMA: Hmmmm, good question! It’s all in the name, really. And technically speaking our next story is about a teeny tiny airplane, called a drone…
LEELA: But we could call it a……. tiny self-driving car!
MAMA: Exactly! The lines of the categories are getting blurred… So, we all know the online shopping and delivery service, Amazon, well in America they’ve just received approval to use drones electric hexagonal, or six sided drones, to be precise to deliver packages to your doorstep from the sky! Plop!
LEELA: I could get my new roller-skates dropping down!
MAMA: Well, maybe. It’s for items that aren’t so heavy just five pounds or less. Their main aim is speed 30 minutes or less from when you ordered it.
LEELA: Ah… So, when I finish my latest Babysitters Club book, I won’t have to wait for the next?!
MAMA: If you have money in your piggy bank – that could work. But, while the American Aviation Administration gave the certificate approving the first fleet of these Prime Air drones, that’s just the first step. They want more safety guarantees from Amazon before deliveries actually begin. But it’s a matter of when not if…
LEELA: So, in a few years… the skies could be scattered with these drones flying around. Wow…
MAMA: I know, right… Flying cars, delivery drones
LEELA: And that’s not all!
MAMA: I know, we’re only halfway through the list! Look… Is it a bird?…… Is it a plane???
LEELA: Is it a flying car? Is it a drone?
MAMA: It’s none of those things!
LEELA: It’s a human! Flying in a jetpack!
MAMA: At least that’s what some American Airlines pilots flying near Los Angeles, California said last week…
SFX – PILOTS
LEELA: That’s crazy!
MAMA: I know! So just to be clear, they think they saw a human in a jetpack, which is a device worn over the shoulders like a backpack using jet propulsion that means spitting out special gas or liquid, at such a high speed, it propels or thrusts the person wearing it into the air.
And, I mean, this is where we need some regulations. Know what I mean?
It’s just another word for rules. Just like we need some traffic rules and regulations, so it’s not crazy and chaotic on the roads –
LEELA: And dangerous!
MAMA: Right. We’ll need the same for the skies!
LEELA: Traffic lights in the skies.
MAMA: Sounds like the name of a song… Should I sing?
LEELA: No, thank you………
MAMA: As if that’s not all odd enough…………
LEELA: We’ve saved the wackiest for last!
ODDBALL STING – LEELA/MAMA/JACKSON: “Step right up, step right up… Have a go at the lucky dip machine… What’s it gonna be today, eh? And odd ball, no doubt!”
MAMA: It’s every child’s fantasy…
LEELA: Or fear. I used to be afraid a balloon might take me away.
MAMA: Exactly, we’re not talking a big fancy hot air balloon! But smaller balloons filled with helium, like the ones at birthday parties that float up.
LEELA: But a bunch, a whole bunch! Imagine holding a bunch of balloons and they take you up… up… Up, you go…. Mama!
MAMA: But that’s just a silly fantasy.
LEELA: Or fear!
MAMA: From the movies – not real life.
LEELA: Oh, yes it was!
MAMA: Totally right. A man called David Blaine floated over the Arizona desert in the United States, holding onto about 50 rather large helium balloons.
MAMA: Of course, he is what’s known as an illusionist, which is a fancy word for magician. So, who knows…?
LEELA: But it’s been filmed.
MAMA: Yes, but just because you see a video of something doesn’t mean it’s real. Remember that. Still. It seems from all reports that he really did pull this off, hanging on with just one arm nearly 25,000 feet in the air, almost as high as that plane in Los Angeles we heard about, for about half an hour, before he released the balloons and started falling and falling until he opened a good, old fashioned parachute to come gently back down to earth.
LEELA: Ah, earth. Solid ground. I like it here!
MAMA: Come on… Wouldn’t you like to fly?
LEELA: Actually, I would loooove to fly.
MAMA: Ok so, if you could use just one of those contraptions, which one would it be? The flying car, the jet pack, or the balloons?
LEELA: Jet pack, for sure. Because then you’d really feel like you were flying.
MAMA: Yeah! Me too.
LEELA: It’s dreamy, Mama. Just listen to this report from our chocolate correspondent, Ameyaa Kohli.
AMEYAA: I don’t know about you, but I loooooove chocolate! If my mum let me, I’d have chocolate morning, noon and night. But she doesn’t let me, of course…!
Some of my favorite chocolate comes Switzerland, a country in the middle of Europe.
It’s full of beautiful mountains and yummy chocolate factories!
Well, a few days ago, the most fantastic thing happened at factory for the chocolate maker called Lindt.
They were roasting “cocoa nibs” – they’re the little-bitty pieces of cocoa beans from which all chocolate is made.
All of a sudden… The system that removes hot air from in the cooling room malfunctioned! That’s a fancy way to say… it stopped working properly. Somehow the chocolate nibs were sucked out of the building and… Into the town! And… it was a windy day!
So… the cocoa nibs were flying everywhere: landing on cars and streets… sprinkling chocolate all over the place! It was snowing cocoa!!! Sadly… it didn’t last very long. Soon it was all gone, as if it were just a dream… But the pictures prove it was real.
Within minutes of this chocolate spread, residents of the town were posting pictures on social media.
Some were even writing poetry about this magical malfunction. In chocolate heaven, this is Ameyaa Kohli for Newsy Pooloozi!
LEELA: Thanks, Ameyaa! Told ya, so, Mama! It was like a dream.
LEELA: This story is about some very dumb art thieves…
MAMA: Yeah, if you’re going to steal high art, it’s a good idea to know what it is and how much it’s worth.
LEELA: This robbery took place in the island city of Hong Kong, just off the coast of China in broad daylight! The thieves walked into an apartment building, pulled open an iron gate and burst through a wooden door to get inside.
Within two hours the burglars walked out with $500 million dollars’ worth of antique stamps, coins and scrolls with fancy calligraphy writing. The thieves knew the apartment belonged to Fu Chunxiao.
He’s a well-known collector of stamps and art produced during the communist revolution last century.
The thieves also seemed to know he wasn’t at home but was on the mainland of China because of the coronavirus pandemic. What they didn’t know was how valuable their booty was! And so, when they went to sell off their stolen treasure, well they didn’t think twice about cutting the most prized possession… in half!
It was a valuable piece of calligraphy written by the famous revolutionary leader and founder of Communist China: Chairman Mao. The thieves clearly didn’t know how precious it was. They just thought it was… too long to hang up. And so, snip, snip, snip. One suspected burglar has been arrested, but police are still looking for the other suspects.
LEELA: We hope you enjoyed that look back at the best Oddballs we covered in 2020.
I can’t wait to see what strange oddities the lucky dip machine spits out for 2021… My imagination is going crazy at what might be in store for us! But before the year is out… next week we’ll say goodbye 2020 with a bark and a meeeeoooow. So do be sure to have a listen while you’re playing with your new toys… Merry Xmas y’all!
– ends –