G'day folks,

On and around the 24th of June every year, you will find the people in Alesund, Norway stacking pallets.  This unique and seemingly dangerous tradition is how the people of this city celebrate midsummer. Sankthans, or ‘Midsummer’, is a festival held every year on June 24th in commemoration of John the Baptist’s birth. The day is celebrated in Scandinavian countries and other parts of Europe. These people risk their health, and even their lives to help assemble The craziest bonfire stack I have ever seen. Check out the pictures of what happens when they get done stacking pallets.  They stack them until it reaches an astonishing 130 feet high.



Clancy's comment: Extraordinary, but very dangerous.

I'm ...









G'day folks,

Birds Eye frozen food went on sale for the first time in 1930 – restricted to 18 stores in Springfield, Massachusetts. The owners, the Goldman Sachs Trading Company, wanted to see how the public would take to this novel idea of offering food for sale.

A year earlier, Goldman had paid $22 million to Clarence Birdseye, the inventor of the process, to secure his trademarks and patents.

This was wealth beyond dreams for 43-year-old New York-born Clarence who had begun his career working as a taxidermist. After jobs in Arizona and New Mexico as an assistant naturalist he moved in 1912 to Labrador – now in Canada – to work as a fur trapper and to carry out a fish and wildlife survey.

It was the fish element of his work that was to change his destiny and lead to the creation of a worldwide business.

Indigenous Canadians at Labrador showed Clarence how they caught fish then preserved them under very thick layers of ice. He was intrigued to see that the fish iced rapidly in the -40C temperature.

He was even more intrigued to discover that the fish tasted fresh when later thawed. Hooked, he could see business opportunities ahead.

He read all he could find about the art of freezing fish, then set up his own company called Birdseye Seafoods Incorporated. He used air chilled to -43C to freeze fish fillets, but consumers gave the product the cold shoulder and in 1924 the company had to file for bankruptcy.

As inventive as he was determined, Birdseye immediately created a new quick-freezing process that involved freezing cartons of fish under pressure between two refrigerated surfaces. The process proved to be commercially viable and he formed a new company, General Seafood Corporation, to develop it.

Ever busy and inventive, Birdseye then came up with another new invention which he called the double belt freezer and this marked the beginning of the flourishing frozen foods industry.

In 1927, he started flash-freezing other food, taking in vegetables, chicken, meat, and fruit.

After the Goldman-Sachs Trading Corporation and the Postum Company (later the General Foods Corporation) bought out Birdseye in 1929 his name was kept as a trademark but split into two words: “Birds Eye”.

The first quick-frozen vegetables, fruit, seafoods, and meat were sold for the first time in 1930 in Springfield under the trade name Birds Eye Frosted Foods.

Refrigerated grocery display cases made their appearance later that year. Another major leap forward came in 1944 with the introduction of refrigerated boxcars to transport the frozen foods by rail nationwide.

National distribution had become a reality and Birdseye had become a legend. Today, frozen food is a multi-billion dollar industry and Birds Eye, the leading brand, is sold almost everywhere.

Clarence Birdseye died of a heart attack in October, 1956. He was 69.

Clancy's comment: I have some of his frozen peas in my freezer. 

I'm ...











G'day folks,

 Charlie Chaplin was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 1975 - to become Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE. He was 85 at the time and had to be pushed in a wheelchair to meet the Queen who performed the ceremony.

Fans of the British-born comic actor had been pressing for such recognition over many years, but controversy in his past life kept Charlie off the roll of honour.

Foreign Office papers from 1956, which were kept secret until 2002, revealed that the silent screen star’s knighthood had been shelved partly because he was considered to be a communist sympathiser.

Officials in his adopted home of the United States certainly thought so. Questions about his political allegiances began in the 1940s and continued until 1952 when his US visa was revoked. He then went to live in Switzerland where he spent the rest of his days.

It was his personal life that also raised eyebrows among the Establishment in Britain. Charlie was known to have had affairs with a number of actresses and had twice taken a 16-year-old bride.

After his third marriage ended in 1942, actress Joan Barry launched a paternity suit. Tests proved Chaplin was not the father of her daughter, but he was still ordered to pay child support and the case left a stain on his character.

Chaplin will be forever remembered, though, as the lovable slapstick tramp with a bowler hat and cane who acrobatted his way through a host of silent films, becoming in the process one of the world’s first superstars.

It would all have seemed highly improbable back in the 1880s. Shortly after he was born in London at that time Charlie was abandoned by his hard-drinking father and lived in poverty for much of his childhood, sometimes forced to stay in one of the notorious workhouses.

But he inherited a love of the stage from his mother, a music hall singer, and was to recall years later: “I was a news vendor, printer, toymaker, doctor's boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor.

“So, between jobs, I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.”

It led, in 1897, to work with a clog-dancing troupe, then to his acting debut as a pageboy in a production of Sherlock Holmes. In 1908, aged 19, he joined the prestigious Fred Karno pantomime troupe, which took him to America. There he was spotted by film producer Mack Sennett, who signed Chaplin to a contract for $150 a week.

There was no stopping him now and by the age of 26 Chaplin was a superstar earning a massive $670,000 a year. 

Twenty years after being thrown out of the United States, forces were at work in Hollywood to recognise his talent and contribution to the film industry. So in 1972 he received an Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”.

It must have given him great satisfaction – but perhaps not as much as the knighthood awarded in 1975. Chaplin said after the ceremony that the Queen had thanked him for what he had done and that his films had helped her a great deal.

He was, he confessed, “dumbfounded” by the occasion.

Within three years Sir Charles was dead. He suffered a stroke on Christmas Day, 1977, while asleep in his Swiss home. He was not, however, allowed to rest in peace. Three months after his death his coffin was dug up and stolen from its grave by two unemployed immigrants.

They demanded $400,000 for its return but were arrested 11 weeks later in a police operation and the coffin was found buried in a field nearby. It was re-interred at its original site, surrounded by reinforced concrete.

Who knows whether the master of slapstick comedy would have seen the funny side of that . . .

Clancy's comment: Well earned, Sir charlie!

I'm ...












G'day folks,

Arthur Orton, who became known as the Tichborne Claimant, was found guilty of perjury after the longest trial in English history.  


The bizarre case, which gripped and fascinated society, involved the son of a butcher in London's East End, a missing English aristocrat, and the claims of a butcher from Wagga Wagga, Australia.

The Tichbornes were a prominent wealthy Catholic family whose stately home stood in rolling Hampshire farmland. In 1854, Roger Tichborne, heir to the Tichborne baronetcy, was presumed dead after a ship that he had boarded at Rio de Janeiro, the Bella, was lost at sea.

Around this time, Orton, the son of a London butcher, who went to sea as a boy, worked as a butcher and stockman for squatters in Australia.

And it was here that a despairing Lady Tichborne, refusing to believe her son was dead, offered a reward in newspapers for information about his whereabouts. She had clung to rumours that some of the Bella passengers had made it to Australia.

In November 1865 she learnt through an agency in Sydney that a man answering the description of her son had been found at Wagga Wagga in Queensland. He went under the name of Thomas Castro and was working as a butcher.

She quickly made up her mind, with an eagerness that some said bordered on insanity, that this was her son. She implored him to leave Australia and he arrived in London on Christmas day 1866.

After paying a flying visit to Tichborne House the claimant met the dowager at a hotel room in Paris. She announced that she recognised him straight away.

Given the known facts, this declaration was startling. Roger Tichborne had been slight and delicate with narrow sloping shoulders, a long narrow face, and thin straight dark hair. Castro, though about the same height, was big-framed and burly, weighing about twenty-four stone. He had a large round face and lots of fair wavy hair.

Born and educated in France, Roger spoke and wrote French like a native but Castro did not know a word of French.

Nevertheless, Lady Tichborne apparently had no doubts. She lived under the same roof with him for weeks at a time, accepted his wife and children, and made him a generous allowance.

All to the fury of the rest of the family. He had failed to recognise any of them, or to recall any incidents in Roger's life. Castro was, they declared unanimously, an imposter trying to claim Roger's identity and the fortune that went with it.

There followed two of the longest trials in English history. The first, a civil trial, was officially an action for the ejectment of Colonel Lushington, the tenant of Tichborne Park. It was brought to establish the claimant’s identity as Roger Tichborne and his rights to the family estate.

Tichborne v. Lushington began in May 1871 and ended 102 days later in March 1872. Over one hundred people from every class swore to the claimant's identity. They were mostly perfectly genuine in their belief.

But after several members of the Tichborne family had been in the box, the jury declared that they required no further evidence and were prepared to reject the claimant's case. His lawyers then abandoned their suit. He was arrested for perjury and later tried in a criminal court under the name of Castro.

The criminal trial, Regina v. Castro, was equally long, from April 1873 until February 1874. But the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning its verdict that the claimant was guilty of perjury for his testimony in the civil trial. They declared that he was not Roger Tichborne and identified him on the evidence as Arthur Orton. He was jailed for 14 years.

Clancy's comment: Interesting story, eh?

I'm ...












G'day folks,

Gerard Brion is a French artist who has devoted his time and energy to recreating the capital city of his country, Paris, in minute detail. There's no doubt in my mind that you'll be amazed by the incredible effort this miniaturist has gone to to reform the famous boulevards and monuments of the City of Light on such a small scale. Take a look:

Clancy's comment: Extraordinary work. I wonder if he allows people to check it out?

I'm ....






G'day folks,

Welcome to the work of another clever artist. 

I love art that surprises me, whether it's an unusual technique, using weird materials you wouldn't expect or working on a scale that isn't common. That's why when I saw these, I couldn't wait to share them with you!

Omid Asadi, an Iranian-born artist from Massachusetts, has been collecting fallen leaves and turning them into intricately beautiful works of art with nothing but a knife and a needle!

Clancy's comment: Brilliant work!

I'm ...