"Every Laugh Means Money"

Every time Sid Smith makes a stroke of his pen, millions of people laugh.

You can’t see them in this picture, though. They are standing behind the desk, just out of camera range. This is why Sid looks a little self-conscious. It is hard to work when people guffaw every time you make a little mark on a piece of paper. The noise is distracting. And they keep whispering and chatting and asking for more snacks.

But Sid has another problem, too. A rogue cartoon man named Andy with a tiny head has escaped from the funnies and is hanging around, kibitzing, giving Sid a headache with his sighing “Oh, Min!” every two seconds. And that’s not all. He wants to tell Sid how to draw her, and what she ought to be saying (“Oh, Andy! I really love a man with a pinhead!”) 

Andy and Min earn big money for Sid Smith every day.

Well, maybe – when they’re not hanging around his desk wasting time. Federal Schools ought to tell people how to get the cartoon characters motivated to go out and actually do some work. Maybe they could take the comic strips over to the newspaper office.

And while they’re at it, they might want to usher all those millions of people out of Sid’s workroom. Just tell them the reporters down at the Bugle have better doughnuts.

Many, many thanks to Modern Mechanix for this glimpse into Sid’s thrilling life (from Physical Culture, March 1922).

Kitten With A Whippie

No groovier product
Than hair stuff in a can
Has ever been made for the Kids by the Man

Hey beatnik, it’s heavier
Than double spelt bread
And never was there a more Grateful Head

For conditioner drips
When you’re high on good karma
Your freak flag is flying but soap’s messing your dharma

Though alternative lifestyles
May include tilting-head power
To avoid getting stuff in your eyes in the shower,

The Establishment thinks
It would be very funny
To see the Young Folks spend a whole lot of money,

For aerating makes volume
So what looks like a lot’ll
Be half what you got when it came in a bottle

So draw headbands and peace signs
To make your head trippy;
But one thing is quite clear: no true hippie is Whippie.

[From LiveJournal.]

Fun Fact: the Urban Dcitonary says that whippie is now used to mean a wealthy hippie – a hippie-crite, you might say. And Mr. Whippy is British (and New Zealander) ice cream – there was a Mr. Whippy truck in A Hard Day’s Night, that’s how I know. And I took the title from the 1964 Ann-Margret movie, link here.

Typewriter Follies Of 1940, Starring the Big Dither

I guess if that’s what a manual typewriter makes you do, I ought to be doing a big MGM type song and dance all around the house, since I have spent the morning assessing old drafted chapters from the various versions of The Mystery Novel.

But since I do not own a large pole or a plastic cylinder thing – or know an office boy with a drum – I will probably just sing a little. Quietly, though.

From now on, I’m probably going to intersperse the slightly-better-thought-out comic posts with little dispatches like this, because I hate the thought of closing down Kitchen Retro. I mean, it may come to that as I put in the hours necessary to really get a working version of TMN going but – I love my blogs. I really do. But I was looking at my dashboard this morning and realized that I have over 600 Virtual Dime Museum posts and over 700 Kitchen Retros, which is a lot of blathering, isn’t it?

I am never sure about the idea of a writing blog to correspond to TMN, because with mysteries you do not want to give away TMI (har har) – but maybe I’ll end up doing something more closely linked to creative writing and just update the present blogs, say, once a week or so. Oh, but then I’m back to 3 blogs and that’s no good, no good at all.

Or perhaps I will just do one blog about writing and books I read, since reading more is one of my goals this year too (and that helps with writing, of course). I’ve joined a challenge to read at least 4 Victorian novels this year (I believe I can do that, at least!) – but Victorian matters belong on my other blog, I guess. Sigh.

I’ll keep you posted.

Advertisement from Life, 1940, big version here.

Peas Peas Me

No no, this is not what has you blushing. Please pick a better, less annoying reason from the following:

I am blushing and ineffectually hiding my face with my hands because

a. I have matched my dress and my shoes to coordinate with a box of frozen peas (including the yellow accents, so have clearly given this a lot of thought).

b. I made a horrible looking dinner and splotched it with those self same peas, like acne on a face.

c. I have just realized that when he says things like ‘he’s never seen or tasted anything quite like this!’ that it isn’t necessarily quite as positive as I had thought a minute ago.

Feel free to add a reason d, if something pops into your head. Otherwise, have a good Monday and I’ll see you all later. I can’t believe I updated both blogs on the same day. That just isn’t going to happen very often anymore. I blame Monday, though do not know why yet. I’ll think of something!

You can see a bigger version of this lovely 1948 ad here. And for no other reason than the title pun and, well, I feel like posting a video, here’s a classic Beatles clip that is way, way better than a box of frozen peas:

The Importance of Ovaltine

Hooray! here comes Mummy
With more Ovaltine
I’ll pour it on Colin
Who hasn’t quite seen

He’s busily gulping
And quite unaware
That soon there’ll be malted
All over his hair

But Mummy suspects
That my motives are cryptic
She looks awfully grim
Perhaps it’s the lipstick

I smeared on this morning -
I look nearly forty!
Never mind, it’s what ladies
Wear when they are naughty.

And that’s what I am,
As Mummy well knows
So have some more Ovaltine,
Colin – here goes!

[From the British magazine My Home, December 1955.]

The Green Stampede

It’s Friday, let’s play a game! How many of the “lovely gifts” from Green Stamps can you find in Mrs. Irish’s house? I’ve made this one extra-large so you can see better.

I’m guessing the pink plastic grapes and the orange dishes that match the plastic oranges (I think they came as a set).

The doggie? The Where-the-Wild-Things-Are Scary Plant in the background? You be the judge.

If you can’t see anything interesting, feel free to make things up.

Slightly boring Fun Fact: I went to the Green Stamps store once with my mom in the late 60s – yup, there was at least one in Manhattan! And I don’t remember much, but there seemed to be a lot of brass tube-y items like cheap TV stands. I don’t think we went back after the one time. But she used to paste those Green Stamps in the little books like nobody’s business. Did anyone else go to the Green Stamps store? Do tell!

My friend Barbara at the delightful if I didn’t have a sense of humor has asked some of us to post a favorite picture on their blogs. Now about a million years ago I posted some family photos over at Virtual Dime Museum, my history blog, and one of my favorite photos ever happens to be over there…so I am going to direct you to this photograph, taken in the early 1890s at Rockaway Beach in Queens, which features my grandmother and her brothers and sister.

I said it over on Virtual Dime Museum but it probably bears repeating, because I know that not everyone reads both blogs – I am working seriously on a mystery novel (which takes place in Victorian-era Brooklyn, with a female detective, so VDM links up with my research pretty well, mostly). I am really having to consciously allocate daily work time for it. So – I will really try to keep up with all of my favorite blogs, and comment when I can, and Twitter (and do a little bit of  EC)  – when I can, just not as much as before…

The Treatwich Anniversary

Well, is Wednesday an anniversary? Hmmm. Let’s see. Not this one. And not most Wednesdays. Unless you say today’s an anniversary of last Wednesday. That’s true. Is it an excuse for cake and a party? No, not really.

But is it an excuse for a Treatwich?

And what might that be, I hear you ask (I know you’re not really asking, but let’s pretend you are). I believe it’s a sandwich, but involves the following variables:

- “a different kind of bread” (I’ve got two kinds, stale and fresh, which do you think he’d like?)
- “his favorite spread” (I’ve got peanut butter or a bedspread, so let’s go with the former)
- “the meat he likes best” (if you’re a vegetarian, you’re out of luck, no treatwich for you!)
- oh, and lots of plastic processed cheese!

What sort of process goes into this cheese product? Never mind. It has “really rich cheese flavor.” And it has little olive slices for eyes, winking up at you. What a treat. “When lunchtime comes, he’ll get the message!” Ah, the message. What sort of message would that be? let’s do the math:

1. Different Bread + Favorite Spread + Liked Meat Product + Fake Cheese = Treatwich. Please explain why fake cheese is an integral part of this equation, if you can.

2. Wednesday + Treatwich = Anniversary of X. Please determine the nature of X, using your imaginative powers.

3. Now multiply the number of fake cheese slices in the Treatwich to estimate the dimensions of Y, the Expected Anniversary Present.

4. And finally, calculate the number of weeks the Treatwich may be deployed as a gift-inducing scheme. Please show your work.

Advertisement (Good Housekeeping, October 1965) thanks to the wonderful TJS Labs.

Sheep Of Fools

Little Boy Blue
Leave your muffiny house
Wake up and do something,
Give that hussy a blouse.

Yes, some girl in her skivvies
With glances perturbing
Is upsetting the sheep
But what’s more disturbing

Your sheep look like people
All a-smirkin’ and struttin’,
Look like Danny Kaye‘s cousins,
If his cousins were mutton.

How does she do it?
Those sheep must like floozies;
So they’re trotting to Hollywood
To audition for movies.

Must we all wear this get-up
If we shepherd a flock?
Yes, if you want to wow movie folks,
Or else livestock.

[Ad courtesy of Retro Ads and Graphics. I really like Danny Kaye by the way, he was amazing in White Christmas and Hans Christian Andersen. But when I saw those sheep faces that's who I thought of - I don't know why the sheep have to have human faces. This gal, by the way, is the cousin of the Three Bears floozy.]

Toast-Trouble At Our House

One more crack about burnt toast, Mr. Smith, and you’ll lose a perfectly good wife! What do you expect from an old toaster like ours?

This isn’t just about the toast, one suspects. In two succinct lines, Mrs. Smith has implied that:

1. She’s sick of his horrible jokes.
2. She, in contrast, is “perfectly good” – unlike him and his rude cracks about the food.
3. He has not supplied the home with sufficiently shiny and new things. In fact, it is quite a flophouse – and he’s lucky she didn’t elaborate.

So what will Mr. Smith do? Apologize? Offer to have a balanced and therapeutic discussion? No – it’s off to the appliance store instead, where spending money makes everything right again. Mr. Smith turns to the psychologically wise salesman, who has a bunch of shiny things to unload on the customers. Mr. Smith plays right into his hands, in fact:

We’re having toast-trouble at our house. If you’ve got a toaster that couldn’t burn toast on a bet, that’s the one for me. [Translation: I need a toaster that so fool-proof that even Mildred can't louse up the toast.]

Ah, toast-trouble. It’s a common marital problem. Next will come the revolt of the rissoles, the kitchen-counter-revolution and, finally, the dinner-hour casserole catastrophe.

So Mr. Smith brings home a Toastmaster and says to the strangely-radiant Mrs. Smith, “This ought to solve the problem, dear.”  [Translation: This ought to shut you up. I hope. Although my jokes about burnt toast really were very funny.]

And yet – the next morning, she comes out with this very curious statement. Not unadulterated coos of joy about her marvelous new Toastmaster toaster, oh no:

“John, I can’t bear it! You’re mild as a lamb every morning. What’ll I do, now that you don’t have burnt toast every morning?”

What does she mean, what’ll I do? Did she like the burnt-toast jokes after all? Maybe that toast-trouble was keeping things  – exciting. Time to break out the emergency box of Rice Krispies.

[Horrifyingly big version here, from Life, February 19, 1940.]

Still Life With Radio, Envelope, Wise Guy and Nylons

[A 50s Classified Ads Poetry Prompt]

The Tinytone’s annoying noise
Its tintinabulating voice
Will magic in my pocket work
And drive my neighbors quite berserk
They cannot tell whence comes the din
That never needs to be plugged in.

So I will sit and think upon
Addressing envelopes for fun!
And profit too; if every schnook
Who sent for the instruction book
Thought to increase their income bracket
They’d set up their own dollar-booklet racket.

Then some big wise guy on the train
Says the Tinytone drives him insane
“Well,” says I, “I am still the king
Of noisy toys that buzz and ring!
My book about Police Jiu Jitsu
Will soon teach me just how to blitz you…”

This did not alleviate his distress
My own required a cold compress.
So I abandoned thoughts of violence
To write up orders for cheap nylons
I hope they will not run or snag
But if they do, pray do not nag:
Just send your disenchantment on
To the Kendix Corp. of Babylon.

[From Popular Science, December 1951.]