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10 Bizarre Things You Can Find in Vending Machines

Last month, the Mondrian Hotel in South Beach unveiled the Semi Automatic vending machine, which dispenses 24 kt gold handcuffs, Gaultier dresses, and the keys to a 1965 Corvette convertible. You may think it's truly unique, but in a world of bizarre vending machines, the Semi Automatic does not stand alone. Here are ten other examples.

1. Poetry

According to their website, Gumball Poetry is a non-profit literary magazine that publishes the best poetry it can get a hold of. But they publish it differently "“ into gumball machines, with a suggested price of fifty cents. If you'd like your very own, they go for $300, and your first 200 poetry capsules are free. Could be the perfect thing to go next to the lamp.

2. Medical Marijuana

For over a year, Glaucoma patients in California have had a 24/7 option to cure what ails them. Marijuana AVM machines are protected by round-the-clock security guards, and offer a choice of five varieties, including OG Cush and Granddaddy Purple. Future plans include adding Vicodin, Viagra, and Propecia. I'd also work on the cabinet design (maybe one of those old blacklight posters).

3. Church Candles

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I don't have much on this one, but it looks like there are cathedrals in Barcelona and the Canary Islands where you can light a candle dispensed from a special candle vending machine.

[Photo courtesy of TravelPod user WhereHeGoes.]

4. iPods

This little beauty was first spotted at Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport in 2006. It stocks batteries, digital cameras and iPod minis. The machines spread to several other airports, and last year Apple placed them in Macy's, because you never want to be too far from your favorite tunes.

5. Beer Atop Mount Fuji

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Mount Fuji is located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park in Japan. But if you plan to scale the country's highest peak, you don't need to bring a six-pack to celebrate once you've made it to the top. There's a vending machine already there to quench any and all thirsts. But please don't get too buzzed, as you've still got a long climb down.

[Image courtesy of Flickr user Jackson Boyle.]

6. Tiny Works of Art

Here's the one entry on the list I've actually seen in person. They've had one of these Art-o-Mat vending machines at the Whitney Museum for quite a few years. Made from recycled cigarette machines, they dispense tiny works of original art for five dollars a pop. There are 82 active machines across the US, and they dispense work from 400 artists. Perfect for the aspiring collector on a budget.

7. Live Lobsters (of course)

You've probably seen articles on strange vending machines before. And hopefully I've included a few new ones. But I wasn't about to leave out one of the classics "“ the live lobster vending machine. I've never seen one in person, but the idea of a claw game to pick up a live animal is strangely appealing to me. Can't say it does much for the lobsters, though.

8. Rhinoceros Beetles

Speaking of live animals, Rhinoceros beetles are very popular pets in Japan. Young Japanese boys will collect them, trade them and have beetle fights. Vending machines offer male beetles for 300 yen, and females for 100. Apparently, news of the US Fair Pay Act hasn't made its way into the Japanese Rhino Beetle population.

9. Used Panties

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I won't spend too much time on this one. Let's just say there were once vending machines in Japan that offered used women's undergarments. And you thought the beetles were wacky.

10. Fine China

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I've saved my absolute favorite for last. The Passive Aggressive Anger Release is an interactive sculpture that lets you experience the satisfying feeling of breaking a piece of China into a million tiny pieces, leaving you content and stress-free. I'm not sure where these things are, but I've worked in a few office environments that could use half a dozen on each floor. Could be a new business opportunity. [Image courtesy of Today and Tomorrow.]

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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