In an unassuming house on France’s River Loire, a cobra lives on the coffee table, a 50-kg (110-pound) tortoise roams the garden and a two-meter (seven-foot) alligator sleeps in the owner’s bed while another keeps watch at the door.
Over two decades, 67-year-old reptile enthusiast Philippe Gillet has amassed a collection of more than 400 phobia-inducing animals, including rattlesnakes, tarantulas and lizards in his home in western France near the city of Nantes.
Gillet says the two alligators, named Ali and Gator, were rescued from a leather farm but most of the animals are pets that outstayed their welcome elsewhere and have been abandoned or donated.
None of this presents a problem, says Gillet:
He insists the locals do not mind their unusual neighbors and regularly pop in for coffee, safe in the knowledge that the most dangerous snakes are kept in a room behind two sets of doors.
But the local fire department is more cautious: they are under instructions not to enter his house in an emergency.
[I’d been wanting to do this story for some time, and I figured the best time for it was a Friday, for, um, obvious reasons.]
How big was Helen Shapiro? About five foot two. More to the point, in 1961, when she was fourteen, she recorded a song called “Don’t Treat Me Like a Child,” which she sang in an amazingly grown-up voice. It made #3 on the UK charts, and was followed by two #1s and a #2.
How big was Helen Shapiro? The Beatles opened for her in 1963. She recorded for UK Columbia, an EMI label, which meant that in the States, Capitol Records got the first shot at releasing her records. They put out all four of those tracks, though they went nowhere in a hurry. (Well, “Walkin’ Back to Happiness,” the third single, showed up for one week in Billboard at #100.) Capitol’s US branch dropped her from the roster, though the Canadian office continued to release Shapiro’s material. (I note purely in passing that Capitol passed on the Beatles’ first singles.)
That Number Two track was “Tell Me What He Said,” a Jeff Barry tune that started life as a Ginny Arnell B-side in 1960; the Playmates (“Beep Beep”) covered it in 1961, with the obligatory gender-flip. Both versions were arranged in typical US Top 40 styles, in the hopes of getting them on the radio; both acts were at different stages of their careers, the Playmates having had four Top 40 hits up to that point, but Arnell, going solo after a couple of flop singles with Gene Pitney (as “Jamie and Jane”), was still a couple of years away from finally cracking the chart with a song you dare not play on the radio anymore.
Meanwhile, Norrie Paramor, Shapiro’s producer, gave her a not-even-slightly-teenage sound:
Paramor was contemplating a Shapiro album from Nashville, of all places, and began hitting up EMI composers for material — including, yes, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who turned out a number called “Misery.” Paramor turned it down, though Kenny Lynch, who’d been on that tour with Helen and the Beatles, decided to cut it himself.
Teen sensations, alas, seldom remain so. Helen Shapiro disappeared from the charts, resurfacing now and then with a song from a stage musical or a jazz number. Her last new track, from 1984, was an Allen Toussaint song:
It was 2002 when she finally retired from show biz; she was still only 56.
It’s a feat inconceivable to most sound-minded mortals: This past Sunday, Denise Mueller-Korenek rode a bicycle more than 180 mph — 183.93 to be exact, which is faster than the takeoff speed of an Airbus A340 — and crushed the motor-paced bicycle land speed record.
This was not just any other ride, of course. Mueller-Korenek mounted a specially equipped bike with a massive gear and tethered it to a race car, which then accelerated to 100-plus mph — the velocity necessary for the rider to turn over the cranks on her own volition. Then she unhooked from the car and stayed in the slipstream, smashing the pedals around to hit the highest speed possible under her own power.
Note that term “motor-paced.” There’s no engine on this bike. The race car drags it up to some absurd speed, and then the rider pedals like crazy.
The whole thing took about five miles, Mueller-Korenek, a 45-year-old national champion cyclist from Valley Center, California, told Bicycling. She and her driver Shea Holbrook, a seven-time Pirelli World Challenge winner, already held the Guinness World Record for the fastest female motor-paced time at 147.7 mph, a speed they hit using a specially adapted Range Rover in 2016. (They had hoped for another record-setting attempt that year, but were rained out.)
People who live in a Stuart neighborhood say their neighbor does yard work and walks around his property naked. They say they’ve called the sheriff’s office, but deputies say, there is nothing they can do.
“I came out Sunday night to put the trash out, and I look over and he is bent over, winding up his hose, and I’m like that is my view of the neighborhood,” says Melissa Ny, a neighbor.
Concerned neighbors want to crack down on this naked truth, the man who lives at the end of their street is a nudist.
“He works on his car, and he does it naked and everyone has called the police, he is just out there doing his yard work, whatever he needs to do outside, naked,” says Ny.
What does the law say?
Several people in the neighborhood have called the Martin County Sheriff’s office, but say deputies tell them as long as he isn’t touching himself inappropriately, there is nothing they can do since he is on his own property.
I thought she said he was winding up his … um, never mind.
Oklahoma Natural Gas is once again offering the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, in which you either take your chances with the market, or you pay this random-sounding number. From the flyer announcing this year’s version:
We’ve already bought a portion of our winter natural gas supply at fixed prices, so we know its cost. We’re making that natural gas available to those who wish to enroll … at $3.155 per Dekatherm for the 12-month period beginning November 1, 2018.
Gas bills in these parts comprise a service charge, a franchise fee, and tax, over and above the actual cost of gas, which, under state law, they can’t mark up. During the summer, when my gas use is less than 1 Dth, I expect a bill around $40. But winter is coming, and I’ve seen consumption as high as 0.4 Dth per day. Still, at that level of consumption, a 12-Dth monthly bill at $3.155 per Dth works out to — about seventy bucks. Almost nominal.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t have expected much from anything with PVC, silk and leather, but this is kinda snazzy, despite the price one pays for Louboutins ($1295 at Neiman Marcus). The silk burst at one’s ankle can also be had in white, at the same price.
Gov. Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco wants to keep close to $100,000 of $321,000 he pocketed in bribes.
In a court filing Monday, Percoco’s lawyers asked a Manhattan federal judge to go easy on the governor’s former right-hand man when he is sentenced Thursday by ordering him to forfeit just $225,000 of the roughly $321,000 he earned through two bribe schemes.
The lawyers claim Percoco, who was convicted in March, deserves to keep roughly $95,000 of his ill-gotten gains because some of the money was the result of a $7,500 per month “low-show” job he got his wife Lisa. And the job, for energy company CPV, resulted in some actual work, they said.
Percoco faces as much as 20 years in the pen, so the state’s expected order is apparently an Officer Obie attempt to make sure Percoco has no money to spend in the cell.