From tough guys to tramps…
… it’s all about the ink… and a sense of humor…
Many more at “A Plethora Of Punny Tattoos.”
* Alfred Hitchcock
As we noodle on the needle, we might send smiley birthday greetings to Joe E. Brown; he was born on this date in 1891. One of the most popular American stage and screen actors and comedians of the 1930s and 40s, he is perhaps best remembered for his role as Osgood Fielding III in Billy Wilder’s exquisite Some Like It Hot, in which Brown uttered the film’s immortal closing line, “well, nobody’s perfect.”
There was a time when “Sour Cream and Onion” was an exotic variety of potato chip…
* William Cowper
As we reach for the dip, we might recall that it was on this date in 1880 that African-American inventor A.P. Abourne was awarded a patent for refining coconut oil– the oil of choice for today’s gourmet potato chips (and of course, for theater popcorn).
It is a sad comment on the conventions of the day that there are no photos of Mr. Abourne available– at least that your correspondent can find. So a generic coconut oil illustration will have to do…
Local commercials — those gems of advertising offering sincere pledges of service and strange visuals seemingly inspired by bath salts — didn’t disappoint this year. These ads find a special place in culture and memory with catchy songs, dated graphics and grainy film. So without further ado, revel in the cheesy glory of summer 2015’s bad local ads. If you’re lucky, you might run into one of these local celebrities at the grocery store (or the dog park).
Talking dogs, bombastic lawyers, and more– from Ad Age, “The Best of 2015’s Bad Local Ads (So Far).”
As we reach for the remote, we might send archetypal birthday greetings to Carl Gustav Jung; he was born on this date in 1875. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist, he founded the practice of Analytic Psychotherapy. His concepts of the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and extraversion and introversion were widely influential in psychology, but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies… and might give readers who viewed the spots at the link above reason for introspection.
“In any field, it is easy to see who the pioneers are — they are the ones lying face down with arrows in their backs”*…
The story of Vector Graphic, a personal computer company that outran Apple in their early days: “How Two Bored 1970s Housewives Helped Create the PC Industry.”
As we try to remember what “CP/M” stood for, we might recall that it was on this date in 1991 (on the anniversary of the issuing of IBM’s first patent in 1911) that Microsoft Corp. for the first time reported revenues of more than $1 billion for its fiscal year (1990), the first software company ever to achieve that scale. While in this age of ‘unicorns,” a billion dollars in revenue seems a quaint marker, that was real money at the time.
As readers who followed the link above will know, Microsoft, founded in 1975, was an early purveyor of the CP/M operating system on which the Vector ran; but (unlike Vector) Gates and Allen embraced IBM’s new architecture, creating DOS (for younger readers: the forerunner of Windows)… and laying the foundation for Microsoft’s extraordinary growth.
The Donald used them to populate his Presidential announcement; so did Eric Weiner when he opened his bid for Mayor of New York. Tim Draper’s failed “Six Californias” ballot initiative campaign hired them for rallies; anti-gay forces recruited them to protest alongside this year’s Pride Parade in New York… Rent-a-crowds are all the rage.
[Image above from here]
* Saul Bellow
As we wonder about the wisdom of crowds, we might spare a thought (and a smile) for Peter Sellers; he died on this date in 1980 at age 54. An actor and comedian of extraordinary accomplishment, Sellers, the son of two variety entertainers, first appeared on stage at two weeks old. He performed consistently thereafter, breaking through with the BBC radio series The Goon Show (believed by many to be the funniest, and certainly the most influential, comedy show ever). Sellars went on to establish himself on television (e.g., A Show Called Fred) and especially in film (e.g., the Pink Panther films) as one of the most versatile– and funniest– comedians in the world. And in films like Lolita and Being There, he demonstrated his skill as an actor.
In 1964, Sellers had suffered 13 heart attacks over the period of just a few days; he resisted traditional treatment for his cardiac problems, opting instead for New Age therapies. He and his Goon Show co-stars Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe had planned to have a reunion dinner during this week in 1980; instead, Seller’s two collaborators attended his funeral.
Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s deep affection and respect for Chuck Jones, who once observed that “the name ‘Chuck Jones,’ according to my uncle, limited my choice of profession to second baseman or cartoonist.” Happily for the world, he chose the pen over the bat.
The (wonderfully appropriately user-named) Every Frame a Painting has done us all a tremendous service:
If you grew up watching Looney Tunes, then you know Chuck Jones, one of all-time masters of visual comedy. Normally I would talk about his ingenious framing and timing, but not today. Instead, I’d like to explore the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist. To see the names of the films, press the CC button and select “Movie Titles.”
* Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones
As we agree that this is in fact “what’s up, Doc,” we might send send beautifully-collaged birthday greetings to another animation giant, Evelyn Lambart; she was born on this date in 1914. Lambart joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1942– their first female animator; one of the few women in the world working even as a co-director in any form of cinema during the 1940s and ’50s, she made beautiful films– and animation history– both as a co-director with the great Norman McLaren and on her own.
Read more of her story, and see several of her works here.
Back in the 18th and 19th century, recreational swimming kickstarted a service industry of aids for decent beach life etiquette. These tools of maintaining dignity were perhaps unsurprisingly mostly aimed at women. Among innovations of this time was the Bathing Machine, or the Bathing Van, which helped bathers change into to their bathing attire right next to the water.
Bathing machines became a thing around all of Great Britain’s empire starting ca. 1750 and spread to the United States, France, Germany and Mexico to serve the greater goal of common decency at beaches…
The passenger enters a horse or human drawn carriage, which is transported some distance out into the water. The van’s human cargo changes into whatever shapeless sack was deemed suitable at the time. The mechanics of it all are unsurprisingly not that glamorous and worth exploring in further detail…
* Isak Dinesen
As we dive in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1871 that the foundation stone was laid for the Tay Railway Bridge to be built across the Firth of Tay on the east Scottish coast. It’s designer, Sir Thomas Bouch, a railway engineer and executive, was knighted for engineering and overseeing the building of the two-mile-long bridge— on which an estimated 75 people died when the bridge collapsed. An enquiry found Bouch to be liable, by virtue of bad design and construction; he died four months after the verdict.
Bouch and his creation are thus also indirectly responsible for the best-known poem, “The Tay Bridge Disaster,” by the gentleman widely-regarded to have been the the worst published poet in British history, William Topaz McGonagall.