alligators from heaven

The story that alligators haunt the sewer system of New York City is thought to be an apocryphal one, possibly started by Thomas Pynchon’s mention of it in his novel V. But tales of out-of-place crocodilians have persisted for years.

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“On December 26, 1877, no less than the New York Times reported the following: “Dr. J.L. Smith of Silverton Township, South Carolina, while opening up a new turpentine farm, noticed something fall to the ground and commence to crawl toward the tent where he was sitting. On examining the object he found it to be an alligator. In a few moments a second one made its appearance. The doctor looked around to see if he could discover any more, and found six others within a space of two hundred yards. The animals were all quite lively, and about twelve inches in length. The place whereon they fell is situated on high sandy ground about six miles north of the Savannah River.”

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A similar story emerged in 1957, courtesy of writer John Toland, who told the story of the U.S. Navy airship Macon. In 1934 the Macon had participated in maneuvers in the Caribbean and was sailing westward on its return trip. As it was entering the sky over California on the afternoon of May 17, the commander, Robert Davis, heard a loud splashing over his head from one of the ballast bags.

Concerned, he climbed into the rigging as the splashing grew louder and louder. He opened the ballast bag and looked in. Swimming around excitedly was a two-foot alligator. No one had any idea where it came from. They had been in the air for several days and it seemed highly improbable that this big, noisy creature could have been with them all that time without being heard. Moreover, Davis had been up and around the ship ever since their departure, and he had seen nothing so out of the ordinary as an alligator.

The only possible explanation – though it made no sense at all – was that the reptile had fallen on the ballast bag from above.

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Most people have heard of fish and frogs falling from the sky. The explanation usually given is that a tornado or strong whirlwind picked up the animals from a shallow body of water and carried them some distance before dropping them back on land.

Mouse rides frog during Indian typhoon

In 1890, Popular Science News reported that blood rained down on Messignadi, Calabria in Italy – bird’s blood. It was speculated that the birds were somehow torn part by violent winds, although there were no such winds at the time. And no other parts of the bird came down – just blood.

J. Hudson’s farm in Los Nietos Township, California endured a rain of flesh and blood for three minutes in 1869. The grisly fall covered several acres.

“Blood Rain” India

The American Journal of Science confirmed a shower of blood, fat and muscle tissue that fell on a tobacco farm near Lebanon, Tennessee in August, 1841. Field workers, who actually experienced this weird shower, said they heard a rattling noise and saw “drops of blood fall from a red cloud which was flying over them.”

The most amazing of these stories was actually proven factual… but not supernatural. Sometime around 1990, a Japanese fishing boat was sunk in off the eastern coast of Siberia by a falling cow. When the crew of the wrecked ship were fished from the water, they told authorities that they had seen several cows falling from the sky, and that one of them crashed straight through the deck and hull. At first the fishermen were arrested for trying to perpetrate an insurance fraud, but were released when their story was verified. It seems that a Russian transport plane carrying stolen cattle was flying overhead. When the movement of the herd within the plane threw it off balance, the plane’s crew, to avoid crashing, opened the loading bay at the tail of the aircraft and drove them out to fall into the water below.

image from Canstructions

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 6:25 am  Comments (38)  
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cheesecake thursday

This is Donna Hay’s Classic Baked cheesecake (recipe here). It’s cooling on the kitchen bench as I type; my son has just arrived home from work and is inquiring anxiously about its intended destination. I usually make a dessert when  queenwilly hosts one of her  mah jongg parties so that’s probably where it will end up. Guess I could cut him a slice though. It’s big enough to feed 12 people! You can see Donna’s version in the “before” shot, mine’s a bit more golden than hers – I think it looks better that way

Ronald loves Harry who loves Gaby who just wants a pearl necklace

Ronald Firbank (1886-1926) was already a published author and a fully formed personality by the time he entered Cambridge at the age of nineteen.

Ronald Firbank

“In 1907 he converted to Catholicism, a religion whose ornate rituals, costumes, symbols, and pageantry provided him with a vehicle through which to express his homosexuality obliquely. Firbank visited Rome with the intention of taking holy orders; however, as he later revealed in a letter to Lord Berners, “The Church of Rome wouldn’t have me, and so I mock her.” Accordingly, his fiction is populated with a ribald gallery of homosexual choirboys, lesbian nuns, cross-dressing priests, salacious bishops, flagellants, and self-canonized saints.

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His last and most explicitly gay work, Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli, appeared in 1926, the same year as Firbank’s early death at the age of forty. The book begins with the cardinal baptizing a police puppy named Crack, and ends when the naked cardinal drops dead while pursuing a choirboy named Chicklet around his church.”

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Gaby Deslys (1881-1920) was a famous French dancer and actress of the early 20th century.

Gaby

“She had many admirers among royalty, most notably Manuel II of Portugal. Deslys became a celebrity following newspaper stories which gossiped about King Manuel’s infatuation with her. Manuel is thought to have given Deslys a pearl necklace worth $70,000 after first meeting her in Paris in July 1909. More gifts soon followed. One was a diamond necklace with black and white pearl drops set in a platinum band. Deslys cultivated a pearl fetish. She collected so many that before she died she said she owned her weight in them.

Gaby

Her American feature film debut was in 1915 with Her Triumph costarring her dancer boyfriend Harry Pilcer. The film is lost but surviving stills show a scene with Deslys and Pilcer and also the intro card with Deslys’s picture in the credits. Deslys made only two more French silent films in 1918 and 1919, both with Harry Pilcer in the cast, before getting the illness that would take her life.


Harry

Her carved and gilded bed, in the form of an enormous swan, was bought at auction by the Universal Studios prop department, and was used in the 1925 film of “The Phantom of the Opera”. In 1950 it was in “Sunset Boulevard” as the bed of Norma Desmond.

According to Beverley Nichols, Gaby spent most of her stage career stalking up and down staircases in the traditional manner. When Ronald Firbank first saw Harry Pilcer dance, he was chasing Gaby up one of her staircases at the time. Firbank was so overwhelmed that he rushed out and bought a huge bunch of orchids which he sent to Pilcer’s dressing room accompanied by an invitation to supper.

“Whether Pilcer ever got the flowers we shall never know; he gave no answer. Whereupon Firbank, with tears streaming down his face, returned to the theatre. Still sobbing, he advanced to the front row and walked slowly along by the side of the orchestra pit, tossing cypripediums and odontoglossums with tragic gestures to the astonished musicians. “

Orchid Mantis found here



Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 7:38 am  Comments (38)  
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when busts were déclassé

Norman Hartnell, the Queen’s dressmaker once summed up the shape of the 1920s by saying “If Sabrina (also known as Juliet with a built-in balcony) had lived in those days she would have been obliged to stay indoors.”

Sabrina

The dresses of the twenties involved designers in an arduous struggle against nature. It was the battle of the brassiere in reverse and half the dressmaker’s time was spent in making intricate contraptions of canvas and elastic to be fitted over any busts that showed signs of intransigence.

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Yet according to Beverley Nichols there was one great woman and one great bust whose figure looms large over that period.

“Norman was busy and allowed me to wander around his pleasantly regal establishment in Burton Street. I found myself in a deserted room filled with busts labelled “Countess of X”, “Madame de P” and The Hon Mrs Q”. I realised I was in the most rarified atmosphere of la haute couture. The great ladies of town were all far too busy to come and be fitted in person; when they wanted a new dress the copies of their bust got all the boredom and pin pricks while they roared off to Ascot instead.

Garbo 1920

My eyes lit upon a bust standing all by itself in a corner. It was reverently wrapped in a lot of brown paper, even so, there was something about this object that seemed vaguely familiar. It looked the sort of bust that would stand no nonsense. It had an aura of majesty.

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Then Norman came into the room and I suddenly realised who the bust was. “I say, isn’t that Queen M…..” The name froze on my lips. It was of course, but Norman never discussed his royal clients. To own a bust was considered extremely déclassé; it was worse than a mirror or a mantlepiece and nearly as bad as a lounge.

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Published in: on November 8, 2010 at 7:03 am  Comments (36)  
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corset friday comes a cropper

I’ve been posting photos of myself in a corset on Fridays for over 3 years now. It was fun for a while but over time it’s become almost a chore since I’ve now documented all the corsets I own plus quite a few babydolls and other lingerie. To me the photos are beginning to look the same especially since I never did master the timer on my camera so this will be the last Friday in the weekly series. For the finale I’ve made a collage of some of my favourites.

 

Enjoy the weekend and I’ll see you on Monday…… xx

Published in: on November 5, 2010 at 6:49 am  Comments (82)  
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what is the use of being a queen if you can’t take a lover?

Marie of Romania (1875-1938) was a British Princess by birth and a Romanian Queen by marriage.

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Princess Marie married Prince Ferdinand in Sigmaringen, Germany, on 10 January 1893. The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons, was not a happy one. The couple’s two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, were born after Marie met her long-time lover, Barbu Ştirbey. Historians generally agree that Ştirbey was the father of Prince Mircea. The paternity of Ileana is uncertain, as is the paternity of Marie’s second daughter, Maria (or Mignon), the future Queen of Yugoslavia.  Ferdinand’s paternity of the three other children, Carol, Nicholas and Elisabeth, has not been disputed.

Princess Maria & Prince Carol

By 1926 the monarchy was in a tangle.

Prince Carol announced that he no longer wished to be considered a member of the royal family and his father, in the last year of his reign pronounced the destitution of the heir apparent.

Prince Carol

Prince Nicholas, after an undistinguished career at Eton, entered the Royal Navy and was serving in the Mediterranean Fleet, frightening the Maltese to death by tearing round the narrow streets on a Red Indian motor-bike. Stories are still told in naval wardrooms about the Valletta prostitute who set up in business for herself under the sign BY APPOINTMENT TO H.R.H. PRINCE NICHOLAS OF ROMANIA.

Prince Nicholas

His mother was having better luck with her daughters. A dedicated matchmaker, Marie was determined to see the three girls nothing less than queens. Elisabeth had become Queen of Greece—a queen without a throne, it was true, and soon to be without a husband, for the marriage did not work out. Mignon, the second daughter, had taken King Alexander of Yugoslavia for a walk in the forest at Sinaia and come back engaged.

Mignon

Marie, finding her country in a grim mood, swept off on travels. She took England by storm, danced a quadrille with King George and Queen Mary, and wrote a piece for a daily newspaper called “My Ideal Man”. Her fan-mail was delivered in a truck and it added up to one massive outburst of praise for her good looks, courage, charm, stamina, artistry, authorship, botany and tapestry-work. A journalist on the Toronto Star called her “a first-rate bridge-player, a second-rate poetess, a very high-grade puller of European political strings . . . who uses more make-up than all the rest of the royal families combined

Queen Marie

Her favourite home was more of a seaside villa than a palace. Ferdinand did not sleep here. He died before the Quiet Nest was completed. His widow did, and whom she might have slept with supplies legends for guides to entertain western tourists with. To be fair, they are only retelling gossip which circulated during Marie’s lifetime—gossip which is purged of its original malice for, as the manager of the Balchik rest-home says, ‘What is the use of being a Queen if you can’t take a lover?’

Quiet Nest

The boatman Hassan; the head gardener who cultivated for her a black rose; the Italian architect Fabrice … in the Balchik story they join the list of lovers. The list is headed by the Crown Prince of Prussia and Waldorf Astor of Cliveden, whose wife Pauline complained that Marie was writing to him every day, and must stop it. It continues with Rosciori hussars, Russian grand dukes, a Polish count, a German envoy, Colonel Joe Boyle, Prince Stirbey, two or three minor Romanian politicians, Colonel Eugen Zwiedeneck, a young aide at Balchik . . . A younger member of the royal family says: ‘Great-grandmama was very naughty. Stable-boys and everything.’

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In 1930 came the sensational return of the exile: Prince Carol, the dispossessed heir who marched on Bucharest and accomplished a quiet coup against his little son.

History and the popular press have been hard on Carol II of Romania. He is a weak-chinned would-be dictator, a drunkard, intriguer and womaniser; a Byzantine character. Close to former royal circles, they speak with some embarrassment of the defect which destroyed the dynasty :

‘I hardly know how to put it . . . Carol was . . . well, you know about Cleopatra’s nose ? Half an inch longer, and the history of the world might have … it wasn’t Carol’s nose, it was another organ… half an inch shorter, and our history . . . you follow me? Lupescu was the only woman who could … eh? You understand?’

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Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 8:21 am  Comments (37)  
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Him I would shoot

Back in the 1950s Zsa Zsa Gabor was famous as a panelist on Bachelor’s Haven.

Zsa Zsa

“Zsa Zsa is often peremptory. When she senses that a man does not meet her rigid standards she dismisses the offender with a curt “Him I would shoot“. One man wrote in “I gave my fiancée a fraternity pin, a ring, some china, black lace lingerie, a stove and a bed. Then she broke our engagement and refused to return any of my gifts. What shall I do?” Said Zsa Zsa “She should give back the stove.”

she should give back the stove

To a woman who complained that “My husband travels with other women” Zsa Zsa suggested “Shoot him in the legs.” A bachelor wrote “I have a lot of oil wells. Do you think that I should marry now that I am 50 years old?” Zsa Zsa answered “For this man life is beginning. He is now becoming interesting. I do not think I should just give him advice, I should see this man personally.”

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Zsa Zsa had many husbands and lovers including Conrad Hilton, George Sanders and Porfirio “my profession is Playboy” Rubirosa otherwise known as The Love Machine. Rumour has it that waiters referred to the largest pepper-mill in the house as “the Rubirosa.” Porfirio jilted Zsa Zsa to marry heiress Barbara Hutton but just ten weeks later he took the private plane Hutton had bought him as a wedding present and flew back into Zsa Zsa’a arms. The reunion lasted three years until he left her for yet another heiress, Doris Duke, attracting world wide publicity for smoking a cigarette throughout their wedding ceremony.

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Zsa Zsa’s divorce from George Sanders freed him up to marry her sister Magda. Her other sister Eva, who is mostly known for her role as the ditzy wife in Green Acres, was instrumental in popularising the game Twister.

“Milton Bradley, the games company, was dubious about a game that had so little to it and that used humans as the playing pieces. That was, however, to be its selling point. That became clear after chat show host Johnny Carson played it live on TV with the actress Eva Gabor. The sight of Eva on all fours in a low-slung dress with Johnny Carson contorting over her was enough. It was, complained competitors, ‘sex in a box’. And thus the game became the runaway craze of 1967.

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 7:11 am  Comments (47)  
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star spangled pussy

Monica Kennedy was one of the first burlesque dancers to trim her pubic hair into a heart shape. She also used to dye it red white and blue when stripping on patriotic days like the Fourth of July.

Fake skin bodysuit found here

Her act included a trick she did with an audience member’s spectacles. After collecting a pair from a volunteer she rubbed them over her bare breasts and vulva before apparently inserting them in her anus so the audience could see them protruding out. “I don’t really put them up my butt” she explained. “They’re not inside me, just in the muscle at the top”

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She was arrested in Port Washington for standing on her head with a cigarette in her vagina, blowing smoke rings out of it. Whipped cream featured heavily as a stage prop as did corked bottles of chianti. “With an uncorked bottle you run the risk of vacuum” she told reporters.

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A backstage worker on her show recalls ” She always went out there bouncing, bubbly and laughing and everybody loved her. She did the thing with the whipped cream on her nipples and she had heavy buns. She sat down on top of this guy’s head one time and stood back up and she had this guy’s toupee stuck inside her. When she realised what she’d done she tried to pat it back on without being too obvious but we were all laughing so hard. I nearly fell out of the light booth……”

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Published in: on November 1, 2010 at 7:29 am  Comments (37)  
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