Watercooler Stories

American wins world's best-beard contest

BRIGHTON, England, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- A young American put his best face forward this weekend in Britain and came away with the title of world's best beard.


Jack Passion of San Francisco won for best full, natural beard, considered the top category among the 17 divisions in the ninth annual event held in Brighton, The Guardian reported Monday.

"I feel fantastic," he said. "I'm 23 and I have the best beard in the world. I looked like a groom; too bad you never get married when you have a huge beard."

More than 250 men competed in the finals with thousands of people cheering them on, the British newspaper said. They were allowed to use wax and hairspray in most classes but dye and extensions are banned.

Other winners included Willi Chevalier of Sigmaringen of Germany, who sported a looping gray beard to win the partial beard freestyle category. Elmar Weisser, a 42-year-old German hairdresser, won the freestyle full beard prize by working his facial hair into a facsimile of London's Tower Bridge.

The event is organized by the Handlebar Club of Great Britain, which requires its members display "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip, with graspable extremities."


Rich guy complains of high N.Z. taxes

NORTH SHORE, New Zealand, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Indian businessman Mike Panjwani plunked down a cool $11 million for a New Zealand penthouse but may not spend much time there, citing the nation's high taxes.

Panjwani, who two years ago sold a parcel of Auckland buildings worth more than $25 million and also does business in Singapore, Europe, Dubai and India, won't be able to move into his two stories of luxury digs in the 117-unit tower in Takapuna for a while because it's still under construction.

"We don't know how much time we're spending there," Panjwani told The New Zealand Herald. "My family can't afford to spend months in New Zealand. The taxes are very high."

The seaside penthouse came with a dedicated elevator, private parking spaces, a pool, spa and glass-enclosed decks. It will be renovated to include a home theater, gas fireplaces and reconfigured rooms, the newspaper said.

Heirloom wedding gown worn by sixth bride

NORWICH, England, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A English bride in Norfolk has become the sixth woman in her family to get married in an heirloom wedding gown nearly 100 years old.

Charlotte Middleton said she could have bought a new dress, but she was struck by the beauty of the chiffon, satin, silk and pearl dress, which was first worn by her great-grandmother, Pauline Fithian, in 1910, The Daily Mail reported Monday.


"Mum gave me a free choice about whether to have a new dress or use the family one," Middleton said. "We shook it out, had a look at it and I decided it was something I wanted to do. It is absolutely stunning and I loved getting married in it. It should last another 100 years and see a good few more family weddings at this rate."

After the gown debuted with Fithian, it was passed around between mothers, daughters, sisters and cousins for nearly a century,

"I was pleased and thrilled that Charlotte wore it as well to get married," said Lucy Middleton, Charlotte's mother. "It's a real family star."

Dog poop a problem on New York streets

NEW YORK, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- New York Department of Sanitation enforcement agents have named five city streets as among the worst in the city for pet droppings.

Sedgwick Avenue, Aqueduct Avenue, Arion Road, 66th Street, Brightwater Court and West 12th Street are among the city roads where residents are most likely to accidentally step in doggie doo, the department told the New York Daily News.

"People walk their dogs and their dogs defecate in the middle of the sidewalk," said Toya Kelly, a resident who regularly walks her German shepherd, Saint, on Sedgwick Avenue.


"There's a lot of kids around here and kids need to be able to run around," she said.

The Department of Sanitation is moving to tackle the problem by doubling fines for those who fail to scoop from $50 to $100.

City officials said roads that feed into parks are also likely to be hotbeds of unscooped poop.

"There are many dog owners who believe parks should be used as outdoor toilets for their animals," said Geoffrey Croft, president of the non-profit New York City Park Advocates.

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