Posts Tagged ‘humor’
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.
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.
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.
“It’s easy to play any musical instrument: all you have to do is touch the right key at the right time”*…
Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson, curators of the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments, explore the wonderful history of made-up musical contraptions, including a piano comprised of yelping cats and Francis Bacon’s 17th-century vision of experimental sound manipulation: “Cat Pianos, Sound-Houses, and Other Imaginary Musical Instruments.”
* Johann Sebastian Bach
As we tickle the ivories, we might spare a thought for Johann Nepomuk Maelzel; he died on this date in 1838. Remembered these days as the inventor of the metronome, Maezel was well-known in his own time as an inventor and impresario. He was especially well-known for his automatons– clock work trumpeters, chess players, miniature song birds, and the like that he exhibited widely. In 1804 Maezel invented a kind of “player orchestra,” the panharmonicon, an automaton able to play the musical instruments of a military band, powered by bellows, and directed by revolving cylinders on which the notes were stored. The “instrument” was admired across Europe, and earned its creator the post of imperial court-mechanician at Vienna, and the friendship of Beethoven (whom Maezel convinced to write Wellington’s Victory [Battle Symphony] Opus 91).
“Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process”*…
Actually, sometimes it does: “Classic Jokes Explained”
[image above, from here]
* E.B. White
As we fiddle with our funny bones, we might bake a laced cake for a writer who never explained his jokes: journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson; he was born in Louisville on this date in 1929. The author of Hell’s Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is widely credited as the creator of the Gonzo school of journalism (an extreme form of New Journalism in which the reporter isn’t simply present, he/she is central), and widely remembered for his love of inebriates and guns, and for his hate of authoritarianism in general and Richard Nixon in particular.
…the massive, frustrated energies of a mainly young, disillusioned electorate that has long since abandoned the idea that we all have a duty to vote. This is like being told you have a duty to buy a new car, but you have to choose immediately between a Ford and a Chevy.
– Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)