Sorry about yesterday! I screwed up. There is a big bold Bleat waiting for you, if you wish. Annnnd sorry about today - I had a column to write in the afternoon, a column yet to write tonight, and it's late - because I was here.
Gave a speech - well, no, that's not quite it. I was a guest at a regular convocation of folk who meet in a steakhouse and have a guest to talk about things. What they do, what they think, and so on. All very informal and delightful and instructive. Good to be downtown in the evening, too. It was not a feral nightmare of gunfire and brigandry, but as we all noted, things have changed, and we all know it. The bones feel hollow.
The hotel lobby had a room where you'd expect to see people with drinks enjoying the low music and swank city vibe. But there wasn't anyone there.
It's as if these strange blue shafts arrived and absorbed all the people.
Ventriloquists are unnerving. The creepy-dummy trope is well-established, and no one would dare do a horror story where the dummy comes to life. Perhaps Charlie McCarthy was the only one we can accept, because Bergen was so good. Why all dummies have to look like Charlie, I don’t know.
The other day I was chasing down some stuff for a 70s update on Saturday morning programming. One of the shows, which did not last long, was a quiz show based on a long-running British kids show. It was hosted by Paul Winchell. The name was familiar. He always seemed to be floating around doing ventriloquism work. I tried to find a YouTube clip of the show, but found another short-lived show he did with children.
Look how tight this is:
This preternaturally composed contestant had an interesting name:
Not the actor, in shrunken form. He was described as a concert pianist and equestrian.
Winchell ribbed the girl about whether she had boyfriends, and made suggestions that Warren should go out with her. Cringey and typical. Old people always seem to think it's okay to humiliate young people about such things.
Anyway, I’ve been looking through his work, and he’s really good, if you like ventriloquists. Of course I had to check the bio.
Winchell's autobiography, Winch (2004), exposed many dark areas of Winchell's life, which had hitherto been kept private, including early stories of an abused childhood, a long history of depression and at least one mental breakdown and a short stint in an institution.
Winchell died of natural causes on June 24, 2005, at age 82. He was estranged from his children, and they were not immediately informed of his death.
Upon learning of it, April posted an entry on her website:
I got a phone call a few minutes ago, telling me that my father passed away yesterday. A source close to my dad, or at least, closer than I was, decided to tell me himself, instead of letting me find out on the news, which I appreciate. Apparently a decision had been made not to tell me, or my father's other children. My father was a very troubled and unhappy man. If there is another place after this one, it is my hope that he now has the peace that eluded him on earth.
I wonder if that’s entirely true. I wonder if there’s anything to infer from the fact that a troubled and unhappy man estranged from his children spent his career faking emotional interchanges with a hunk of wood that did his bidding, and still talked back.
Have a few minutes? Time travel, at your fingertips.
It’s 1928. Okay, folks: which one of these items will still have some resonance with 2021?
Loose powder Norita Vanitie:
IT CANNOT SPILL
Oh, I’m sure it can.
The 20s leap in visual sophistication is always a pleasure to study. Some advertisers might have been horrified by this - all that wasted space you could’ve filled with words! - but I’m sure even the critics would have silently seethed. We should have thought of this.
“After non-stop sessions of smoking and shouting, my throat felt fine! Honestly.”
Not a cough in a carload, they said, and I don’t think anyone bought that.
There’s our banner girl, with her friends, one of which might be a horsey English miss:
The copy says “it brings luck,” which seems a stretch. “DEMAND TANGEE TODAY.” Smart copy: this is your right! It is owed to you! Demand what is yours!
Okay, sure, I guess, but -
“Youth is charm, and youth lost is charm lost, as EVERY WOMAN INSTINCTIVELY REALIZES.”
No punches pulled here.
“SEM-PRAY.” As in “sempre,” or Italian for “always.”
Jean-Baptiste Rigaud, a great French perfumer of the 19th century
Following studies in chemistry in his native Auvergne in Riom, Jean-Baptiste came to Paris in 1852 to collaborate with the laboratories Grimault & Cie, famous for their aromatic products such as the “Iodized horseradish syrup” or the “Anti-asthmatic Indian cigarette.”
I will be thinking about “Iodized horseradish syrup” the rest of the day.
Better to read the story than suffer my excerpts. The company later claimed the invention of scented candles - and they’re still around.
Maybe not and he doesn’t like it he can find another girl I’m tired of breathing aluminum dust all night
Was the product named after the company’s co-founder, Fannie Patricia Berezniak? No.
In 1919, Gordon Gordon introduced a new perfume called Princess Pat, named after Princess Patricia of Connaught [1886-1974] a descendant of Queen Victoria. Princess Patricia had married Commander Alexander Ramsay [1881-1972] in February, 1919. In doing so she had relinquished her title and became Lady Patricia Ramsay cementing her popularity in the minds of the general public.
Well, therein hangs a tale, no?
The question of Patricia's marriage was the subject of much speculation in the Edwardian era, as she was considered one of the most beautiful and eligible royal princesses of her generation. She was matched with various foreign royalties, including the King of Spain, the Prince Royal of Portugal, the future Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Grand Duke Michael of Russia, younger brother of Tsar Nicholas II.
In the end, however, Patricia chose a commoner rather than a husband of royal blood.
Her name was bestowed upon a cruise ship in 1949. While it’s a complicated story, at least as it’s described on a Wikipedia page, we can deduce that the name lent itself to a new cruise line, which exists to this day.