Friday, September 6, 2013

A woman Tom Lehrer would be proud of

The town of Cambridge England has a pigeon problem.  A very bad pigeon problem. The Cambridge City Council this year set up a $175,000rapid response” cleaning team to target pigeon mess as well as chewing gum removal and to carry out extra litter-picking - but it is still awaiting a vehicle. 

This apparently is not fast enough for one elderly resident of the small town.  She has gone a one-woman vigilante crusade and begun taking matters into her own hands, literally and goes around strangling the pigeons. A spokesman for the town council was quoted as saying: “It is illegal for an individual to kill pigeons just because they don’t like them. (Only) local athority can do it if the pigeons are causing a health hazard.

Unknown pensioner of Cambridge, the ACME Corporation and it's subsidiaries, do not condone your actions, but we salute your plucky can do spirit.

Today is Read a Book Day.

I just finished Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

September 6, 1925 -
The silent-film The Phantom of the Opera, starring, Lon Chaney (who considered it his crowning achievement) premiered in NYC on this date.

Rupert Julian fought constantly with the cast and crew. Julian and Lon Chaney were not on speaking terms for most of the production, and had to communicate through intermediaries. Norman Kerry actually charged at Julian while riding a horse, knocking Julian to the ground in front of a group of onlookers.

September 6, 1935 -
This early Astaire and Rogers film, Top Hat, written specifically for Fred and Ginger, was released on this date.

The two-minute dance of "The Piccolino" was filmed in one take. Fred Astaire didn't care for the big finale production number so he handed singing duties on it over to Ginger Rogers. The dress Ginger Rogers wore in the number is on display in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

September 6, 1936 -
The classic screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey, premiered on this date.

When William Powell and director Gregory La Cava had a disagreement over how Godfrey should be played, they talked it out over a bottle of Scotch in Powell's dressing room. The next day, LaCava returned to the movie set with a major headache, but Powell was not there. The director received a telegram from his star: "WE MAY HAVE FOUND GODFREY LAST NIGHT BUT WE LOST POWELL. SEE YOU TOMORROW."

September 6, 1944 -
Billy Wilder's film-noir classic, Double Indemnity, starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson, opened in NYC on this date.

Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler did not get along well while writing this film's script, a process that was apparently filled with arguments. Wilder claimed that he flaunted his womanizing ability at the time to torment the sexually-repressed Chandler.

September 6, 1958 -
Steve McQueen debuted in the western series, Wanted: Dead or Alive, on CBS-TV on this date.

Dick Powell, the producer of the series, saw a preview of The Blob. Powell was so impressed with McQueen performance that he offered the young actor the lead of the series.

Today in History:
September 6, 1776 -
American's first submersible, David Bushnell's egg-shaped Turtle, piloted by Erza Lee (after Ezra Bushnell, David's brother, the submarine's initial captain, died the night before) unsuccessfully attacked the British-vessel HMS Eagle in New York harbor on this date.

The bomb was released into the water and resulted in a frightening explosion. While the American Turtle failed to destroy its target, the British recognized the threat and moved the fleet. Royal Navy logs and reports from this period make no mention of this incident, and it is possible that the Turtle's attack may be more submarine legend than historical event.

September 6, 1901 -
While shaking hands at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, President William McKinley was shot twice in the abdomen at point-blank range with a .32 caliber revolver, on this date. He, unintentionally, became the first President to ride in an automobile as a motorized ambulance takes him to a hospital.

The assassin, an anarchist by the name of Leon Frank Czolgosz, concealed his gun within a handkerchief, actually was a lone gunman (for once).

McKinley died a week later and became the third American president assassinated.

September 6, 1916 -
Clarence Saunders opened the Piggly Wiggly® grocery store (the first self-service market,) at 79 Jefferson Street in Memphis, Tennessee, on this date. Piggly Wiggly's introduction of self-service grocery shopping truly revolutionized the grocery industry.

There were shopping baskets, open shelves and no clerks to shop for the customer – all unheard of at the time. There are still more than 600 Piggly Wiggly stores in the US today.

Although there can be no royalty in the United States, one young woman, is crowned each year as Miss America. The first such coronation was held for Margaret Gorman, on September 6, 1921.

Miss America reigns for one year, at which point she must retire-unless she removes her clothing, in which case she's deposed. (Or is that denuded?)

September 6, 1951 -
During a drinking party in Mexico City, author William S. Burroughs instructs his wife Joan to balance a glass of gin on her head. He then takes careful aim with his new .38 pistol, and unintentionally blows her brains out in front of their friends. The Mexican authorities later charge Burroughs with criminal imprudence.

So kids remember, when a drunken Beat drug addict writer asks you to play "William Tell" - Just Say No!!!

September 6, 1966 -
Parliamentary messenger Demetrios Tsafendas assassinated Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, considered to be the primary architect of apartheid, by stabbing him in his chest on the floor of the South African legislature.

While Verwoerd died shortly thereafter, Apartheid tenaciously clung to life until 1994.

September 6, 1976 -
Years after their well-publicized break-up, Frank Sinatra privately orchestrated a surprise appearance of Dean Martin on Jerry Lewis' annual Labor Day telethon for the MDA. The two privately reconciled and maintained a private relationship throughout the rest of their lives.

If only Sinatra could have knock off broads and booze long enough to deal with the whole Israeli-Palestinian situation

And so it goes

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