In 1940, Rev. Hansen started touring around the U.S. with his family, putting on a show in which he used trained birds to demonstrate lessons from the Bible. Newsweek (Dec. 10, 1951) offered this description of the act:
A typical show opens with a six-canary choir accompanying Mrs. Hansen (on the vibra-harp) in "The Star-Spangled Banner," while an oriole pulls a string that hoists a flag on a tiny pole and a parakeet shinnies to the pole top to pose as an American eagle.
Other birds ride on a tiny electric train, eat at tables, and climb ladders while the Hansens appropriately quote the Bible. For example, when Tiger the canary sits on Catnip the cat while daughter Sylvia watches (see picture), Mr. Hansen quotes Isaiah 11:6, "... the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the faitling together; and a little child shall lead them."
Mr. Hansen feels that the whole act is "a demonstration of faith. Pete is not afraid of the flaming hoop because he knows I am holding it. Muggs has to stretch out his neck to swallow a sword that's as long as he is, but he has faith in us."
Amazingly, Hansen was able to continue putting on his Bible Birds show for 60 years, until he died in 2002. See Roadside America for some more info.
Bimbo's 365 Club is still an active music venue in San Francisco. But, according to news on their own website, they seem to have abandoned a long proud tradition: Dolphina, the miniature live nude woman who swims in a fishbowl with goldfish.
IT’S AN ILLUSION A catacomb of tunnels in the bowels of the club leads to a small room containing a rotating platform on which the live “mermaid” reclines, naked. A periscope with angled mirrors projects her image up into the fishbowl where it appears that a tiny mermaid, about six inches long, is floating in an underwater grotto.
One at least hopes that the statue to an ideal Dolphina, erected in 1952 inside the club, still has a place of honor.
Headline writers had a lot of fun with this story. Ruth Shepler was an Iowa barmaid who had a signature bar trick which involved pouring a bottle of beer into a glass while the glass was balanced on her ample "frontage." She could reportedly balance up to four glasses simultaneously.
But when the IRS heard about this, they decided that her trick was really a cabaret show, which meant that she should have been paying cabaret taxes for the previous three years (1952, 1954, and 1955). And they demanded these unpaid taxes, which by their calculations amounted to $44,694.
Shepler hired a lawyer to fight the IRS. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any news reports that tell how her case turned out.
Orto's gimmick is that he would eat and drink things while submerged in a tank of water. According to Newsweek (June 30, 1947), "Here his barker tries to convince skeptics he is smoking a cigarette while submerged."
I have no idea who this guy is, but his performance is impressive for his age. The youtube info only says that he's a performer in Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt. The video was uploaded in December 2006.
When Iranian national Golshifteh Farahani decided to take a stand against Iran's notoriously strict rules for women, she wanted maximun exposure. So what better way for the Paris based actress to show Ahmedinejad the finger than to show a whole lot more than than, by posing naked for a French magazine. Well it certainly got their attention (plus the attention of a many others judging by the huge upsurge in visitors to her Facebook page from her home country), the Iranian government has banned her from ever returning home. According to Ms. Farahani, an official from Iran's Ministry of Culture told her that Iran didn't need any actors or actresses, which was especially ironic since Iran won it's first ever Golden Globe award this year for the film "A Separation" (The Independent).
From the nude to the rude now, as popular British daytime quiz “Countdown” stirred up a bit of controversy this week when a contestant won one round with the word “wanker”. The object of the game is to make the longest possible word from a random selection of vowels and consonants in just 30 seconds, and in this particular round this meant the letters RAEPKWAEN. Mark Murphy’s six letter offering left host Nick Hewer at a loss for words, but was the longest and is in the dictionary, hence took the round after his opponent could do no better than 5. Clearly though “wanker” shouldn’t have netted Mark the points, he could have had “reawaken” for eight (Orange).
A slightly more pleasant shock greeted teacher Parijat Saha from Dinajpur in India when he checked his bank account online one evening. In a classic Monopoly moment, a bank error in his favour gave him a balance of 490 billion rupees (about $9.7 billion). Mr. Saha promptly rang the State Bank of India to report the mistake, joking that the bank appeared to have so much money it was overflowing into his account. A bank spokesman later claimed that the funds were uncleared, and in any case couldn’t have been withdrawn (Digital Spy).
Finally, a three-night astronomy special on British television scored two spectacular successes this week. The BBC show “Stargazing Live”, hosted physicist Brian Cox and comedian Dara O’Briain live from Jodrell Bank, encouraged viewers to get more involved with astronomy, both from their gardens and online, and has led to a 500% surge in telescope sales in the UK in the last few days, but more spectacularly, one viewer may have actually discovered a new exo-planet after visiting a website featured on the show. Chris Holmes was one of sixty thousand people who were inspired to visit planethunter.org after watching the show, and despite having no more than a passing interest before, he identified a possible eclipse of the star SPH10066540 by a Neptune sized object in a 90 day orbit (BBC News).