Random weirdness for the week of Feb. 3

polar bear in london

You gotta love which animal is on the leash in this photo. The eight-foot-long confrontation between the “polar bear” and a poodle occured during the (bigger) furry creature’s amble through the streets of London on Jan. 27. The semi-animatronic bear costume was crafted by 19 Hollywood prop specialists using 90 square feet of fur and about 60 other types of materials. Two puppeteers guided the animal after five days of practice and studying real polar bear movements. The costume weighed about 20 kilos, compared to the 400 a real bear weighs. The tour was a publicity stunt for “Fortitude,” a new 12-episode TV series based in a town that’s Longyearbyen in all but name. The highly acclaimed and publicized series, which debuted Jan. 29, is airing on British and U.S. networks….

Back in Svalbard, you’d think overwhelming heat would be the last thing to worry about during the prolonged cold spell we’re having (a couple of blissful days in the middle of this week aside). But it turns out the Other New Burning Problem in Longyearbyen is still leaving many smoldering. Yet another fire caused by a person falling asleep with a no-longer-frozen pizza in the oven occurred Saturday, two days after the fire department reported it responded to a record number of alarms in 2014. The most recent incident occurred in an apartment complex with 36 units when the culprit came home from a party in the wee hours of the morning with the munchies, according to our counterpart publication responsible for All The Snooze That’s Fit To Print. Although “it was one of the blackest pizzas I’ve seen,” according to the fire chief, the worst damage was likely the ill-will of the culprit’s neighbors who were left standing out in the cold and the fines of about 11,000 kroner the partier is facing. The fire department responded to 181 calls last year (compared to an average of about 145 since 2005), with 14 classified as fires or severe smoke situations. Of those, seven were caused by people – most or all drunk falling asleep with food cooking in the early morning hours. The phenomenon, for the benefit of our many visitors this weekend, is attributed to the closure last January of a pizza place that was the last remaining food option for folks after the pubs closed, forcing the hungry to fend for themselves…

Of course, a proper and nutritious diet is essential, and it’s hard to think of better way to illustrate this than a study getting lots of exposure that shows polar bear penises are weakening due to eating food loaded with harmful additives. The study, published in Environmental Research, examined penis bone samples to determine their density and whether PCBs are affecting the results over time. They found high PCBs led to a “low baculum density” which, while we’re not exactly sure what that means, is certainly inclined to leave us feeling (even more) impotent…

But the creatures remain fearsome for now, much to the relief and delight of people who depend on them for a living. No, not “junk scientists,” silly. Hollywood (and its foreign equivalents), which is on a tear these days when it comes to Svalbard-based entertainment where there’s always a fur factor. Among the latest is the bear-attacks-isolated-girls film “Operasjon Arktis” which, aside from “the cheesy freeze frame of the reunited family,” screened to lots of positive publicity last week at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.

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