Snow penises and squirrel CPR: 5 fun stories to distract you from the news
Need a break from pandemic headlines? As It Happens has you covered with these interviews from our archives
As we enter yet another week of physical distancing and horrifying headlines, it's important to take a break from the pandemic news and to have a laugh.
That's why we've been digging into our archives at CBC Radio's As It Happens to find the funniest, silliest and most absurd interviews from times past.
From the guy who found an unexploded WW I artillery shell in his neighbour's trash to the man who created a giant snow penis to make amends for destroying a smaller snow penis, here are five funny stories to distract and delight.
A bomb in the trash
Danny Vellow was taking a walk through the path behind his London, Ont., in May 2018 when he almost stepped on a First World War-era artillery shell in his neighbour's trash.
Having worked at the bombing range in to Lac La Biche, Alta., Vellow says immediately knew what it was and called the police.
Then he moseyed on down to The Beer Store.
"So I got a phone call ... and he said, 'What are you doing at the Beer Store?' I said, "Well, I'm not ... going stand there all day. I'm going to get some beer and I'll be right back there in 10 minutes,'" Vellow told As It Happens host Carol Off.
"So I got back there. OK, now the bomb is three feet from me. And the police officer drove up with his car, right up to me: 'Are you Danny from the Beer Store?' ... And he says, 'Where's this bomb?'"
Officials seized the weapon and gave it to the Canadian Forces base in Borden, Ont. where it was destroyed.
"The police told me that was a spectacular explosion," Vellow said. "No kidding, eh? I wanted to make a lamp out of it."
Destroy a snow penis, create a snow penis
When Emilian Sava learned about the giant penis someone had etched in the snow on the canal in his Swedish city of Gothenburg, he decided to be a good citizen and get rid of it.
He had no idea the phallic canal art was so beloved it even had a local Facebook page created in its honour.
"I started really feeling sorry for them because they really missed their penis," Sava told Off in January 2016. "In the middle of the night, I wake up, I went to the computer and I write to them: 'I'm really sorry that I deleted your penis.'"
He decided to make things right — by heading back down to the canal with his snow-blower and creating an even bigger snow penis. Possibly even the biggest snow penis.
"I think people around the world are thinking, and they will do much bigger penises than this one," he said. "This is only the start."
Politically correct plumbing
Allan Robinson didn't think that the word "cock" should be removed from the technical language of plumbers in the U.K.
"There are connotations, of course. And a cock is an old anglosaxon word," Robinson told then-As It Happens host Michael Enright in January 1994.
The Director of the National Plumbers Association in the U.K. was referring to the words ballcock and a stopcock, both mechanical devices that regulate the flow of water.
"Now suddenly someone, of course, has picked up the word ball and the word cock and the word stopcock and, of course, we are now in trouble," Robinson said.
He was talking about the British Water Authority, which determined the terms were outdated and sexist. They suggested politically correct alternatives: replacing "ballcock" with "float valve," and "stopcock" with "stop valve."
And while plumbers were told they must use the new terms on the job, Robinson suggested it might come at a cost to customers.
"One of my members said if fitting a stopcock, he would charge £15. If he's fitting a stop valve, he would charge £30."
Performing CPR on a squirrel
Rick Gruber had never given anyone CPR before, and he didn't expect his first time to be on a squirrel.
In June 2014, the pool repairman from Phoenix, Ariz., was installing a heater when he heard a small splash. It was a ground squirrel that had fallen into the water and was struggling to keep his head above the surface.
Gruber ran to grab a pipe from his truck to fish the rodent out. When he got back, he thought he was too late.
"His head was down, his little butt was sticking up in the air. And he wasn't breathing or moving or anything. So I thought, 'Great. I lost him,'" Gruber told As It Happens host Carol Off.
He pulled the squirrel out of the water and put his untapped CPR training to work, pushing on its chest and squeezing its sides.
"I was kind of being gentle and firm with him, and I just kept on going until his whole body twitched," he said.
"I thought, 'Wow, he is actually starting to take a breath.' I go, 'This is pretty cool. I think I might have just resuscitated a ground squirrel.'"
An hour after the ordeal and with a nap in Gruber's kneepad, the squirrel perked up and scurried away.
"He didn't give me a look over the shoulder or a wave or anything like that," he said. "Not even a thank you."
In April 2011, Off interviewed a Royal Canadian Mint spokesperson about a plan to phase out the Canadian $5 bill and replace it with a $3 coin dubbed the "threenie."
What the listeners didn't know was that the Mint representative was actually As It Happens writer (and now co-host) Chris Howden who was in on the April Fool's joke.
"Carol, we at the Mint are always trying to get costs down and the fact of the matter is that paper money costs money and wears out quickly, as you know if you've carried a bill around for any length of time," Howden said.
"The fives in particular — I'm not exactly sure why, I think that it has something to do with the face of Wilfred Laurier — they get defaced, which is illegal, of course."
Why not a $5 coin?
"We've brought mathematicians in," Howden said. "The combinations that are available to us with a $1, $2 and $3 coin are infinitely greater we've found than if we had a $5 coin, and believe me, we've done our research on this."
"We've had some of the great minds in the country on this."
Written by Sheena Goodyear and Kate Cornick.