World keeps humor in 2008 despite economic woes

Fri Dec 26, 2008 2:09pm EST
 
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Whether smashing plates in San Diego to relieve frustration or drinking "Bailout Bitter" beer in Canada sold as a "bitter ale for bitter times," people the world over kept a sense of humor in 2008 despite financial woes.

Some of the year's top off-beat tales included a Canada brewery that created a special tough times bitter and "Sarah's Smash Shack" in California, which charges patrons $10 for 15 minutes of pleasure pulverizing dinnerware against a wall.

"It was the best $50 we've spent in the last two years," said insurance broker Adam DeWitt, who smashed plates in San Diego with his wife after his home mortgage loan was rejected.

A glance back at 2008 shows a world full of wonderful, weird and whacky stories both before and after the financial upheaval.

In May, a Wall Street restaurant boasted it was selling the costliest burger in New York, with the $175 patty made of Kobe beef, black truffles, seared foie gras and flecks of gold leaf.

"Wall Street has good days and bad days," said Heather Tierney at her Wall Street Burger Shoppe. "We wanted to have something special if you really have a good day on Wall Street."

One bank in Kazakhstan offered a diamond-encrusted credit card for well-heeled clients with incomes over $300,000. A jeweler in Tokyo kept busy selling 13-piece tableware sets made of gold for $1 million -- aimed at newly rich Chinese customers.

Yet there was no need for any plates at all in Bihar, one of India's poorest states where authorities encouraged people to eat rats to fight rising food prices and save grain stocks. They praised rat meat a healthy alternative to rice.   Continued...

 
<p>A customer with a protective gear smashes a dish to a wall inside a truck named "The Venting Place" at Tokyo's Akihabara district December 20, 2008. Picture taken December 20, 2008. /Issei Kato</p>