The Classics: Music & Humor

When Alyssa Milano was on The Late Late Show last December, she told Craig Ferguson (and all of us watching), that her grandfather said there were two types of people: those who think farts are funny, and those who don’t. Clearly Milano does, because she spent quite a bit of time farting around with Ferguson.

Whether or not Milano’s grandfather was right about there being just those two groups of people in the world, it’s clear that Mozart was a man into fart humor. Yes, that Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The proof of poof-amusement comes from (at least) one of 12 letters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his female cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. These letters, written between 1777 and 1781, are included in Robert Spaethling’s book. And they contain passages which Lapham’s Quarterly calls “alliterative and obscene”. It is in this letter that we find Wolfgang going well-past a love of all things musical into TMI territory. In fact, this might be the first reference to a shart — it’s certainly the earliest I’ve ever read.

You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we’ll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? Yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?

Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I’m in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window— and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally my mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—ecce provatum est! Mama was right!

Clearly not all classical musicians are as, errm, stuffy as you might think.

Image via Wikipedia.

In 1913, She Told Him They Couldn’t Be Together. 100 Years Later, THIS Was Just Discovered.

While searching through the attic of his father’s house, a son came across boxes of old items. The most interesting were piles of love letters sent from a man named Max. From 1913-1978, Max and Pearle wrote each other. All his letters begin with “My Sweet Pearle” and end with “Forever yours, Max”. These letters were supposed to have been burned when Pearle passed away in 1980, but the family didn’t honor those wishes, and one of the greatest love stories began to unfold.

In 1911, a woman named Pearle Schwarz met a man named Maxwell Savelle at the Country Club. They fell madly in love. Unfortunately, Maxwell would not convert to Judaism (his parents were Southern Baptists) and so they could not be together. They went their separate ways – Maxwell went into the Navy and Pearle continued to pine for him until she died. She never let go.

See on www.viralnova.com

A Pen Is

Resisting all jokes and puns about what a pen is, euphemisms for swords, and even the pragmatic discussion of women’s rights to wield the power of writing implements, I bring you the folly of the BIC For Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen. There’s little I can say, really… This pen, “A gel pen essentially for women!” is only sold in Europe and the fine folks there have responded accordingly, filing the following reviews (and more) in retaliation for a poorly thought of product designed “for women.” Enjoy. And take heart that there are sane people.

I never knew I needed this so much, 16 Aug 2012
By Butch McCassidy

Oh. My. God. I’ve been doing it all wrong. There was me thinking I didn’t need to worry about whether my writing implement sufficiently reflected my gender. Thank you so much Bic for showing me the error of my ways. Perhaps Bic will also bring out a new range of pink (or purple) feminine spanners, screwdrivers, electric drills and angle grinders so that I can carry out my job as a bicycle mechanic without further embarrassing myself? Luckily my male colleagues have managed to keep their disapproval of my use of their masculine tools to themselves. I’m so ashamed. And re-educated as to my place in society. Thanks again Bic!

At Amazon, the above review, “The most helpful favourable review,” is pitted against this next one, “The most helpful critical review.”

No good for man hands
I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.
Published 6 days ago by daveyclayton

But there plenty more; this one may be my favorite, simply for the title:

Such a useful little tool (and that’s not just a description of the man in charge of the marketing campaign), 21 Aug 2012
By zak jane keir “decadent media” (UK)

How could I have missed my own deep inner need for such a product? It’s just perfect for ramming straight up the hogs’ eye of any sexist man I happen to be oppressed by – no more tabasco-dipped nasty old medical catheters for the misogynists in my life!

But perhaps this one is most sarcastic:

Send from Heaven by the Angels, 20 Aug 2012
By Siobhán

I could never write until now because I’m such a thick little Princess that I refused to. I just drew pictures of my pink little bike, with the lilac streamers. I thought I’d just grow up and let a big manly man come and marry/save me.
Now I’ve found this pen, I’ve learned to write. It’s so pretty, with it’s comfortable grip, not like the razor like surface on ordinary mens pens. It will help me list all my household chores and record my calorie consumption in my diary. Who knows? Maybe it will give me the confidence to take the stabilisers off my bike.

Or maybe it’s this one…

This product cured my girly dyslexia., 21 Aug 2012
By I am a private person, not a real name!

Before I bought this product I couldn’t write but now I’m an engineer. Mind you, I only design pink, flowery bridges, motorways and sewers. Blue ones would be wrong wouldn’t they.

The Original Garter Girl’s Estate Shows Something More Shocking Than Lingerie

When I spotted this post at Slip of a Girl’s lingerie blog, I thought I had remembered something about the former burlesque star, “The Original Garter Girl,” Lynne O’Neill

Sadly, it was that she’d passed away recently; her estate sale was held October 9, 2010, in Hempstead.

Along with the dearth of personal items from O’Neill’s estate, a lot of memorabilia is up for sale at eBay — but none more fascinating to me than this collection of several thousand of letters listed by Jeff’s Paintings Books Music Stuff.

The seller’s description is as follows (yes, they wrote in all caps, etc.):

UP FOR AUCTION IS AN ARCHIVE, CONSISTING OF SEVERAL HUNDRED PIECES OF CORRESPONDENCE FROM MEN – ALL FROM THE MID 1950’S – RESPONDING TO PERSONAL ADS THAT LYNNE O’NEILL PLACED IN NEWSPAPERS. THE MEN ENCLOSED AS LITTLE AS A DOLLAR FOR PHOTOS OF LYNNE O’NEILL, HOWEVER, SOME PAID SIGNIFICANTLY MORE FOR UNDERWEAR (NOW AVAILABLE ON EBAY FROM OTHER SELLERS), GARTERS, MOVIES, AND RISKE MATERIAL.

MANY OF THE LETTERS ARE DETAILED AND LENGTHY. SEVERAL RUN SIX PAGES OF LONGER. A FEW LETTERS ENCLOSED PHOTOS. ONE GUY THOUGHT HE WOULD IMPRESS LYNNE WITH A PHOTO OF HIS GAS STATION. OTHERS DISCUSSED THEIR MEETING LYNNE, AND THEIR RECEIPT OF A LETTER FROM LYNNE. ANOTHER DREW PICTURES OF LYNNE/ IT REALLY IS AN AMAZING ARCHIVE, OF AMERICAN LIFE IN THE 1950’S. MEN ASKING FOR HARD CORE PHOTOS IN VEILED TERMS “YOU KNOW WHAT I LIKE” AND SEND ME PHOTOS OF YOUR “BUTTERFLY”. (I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WOMEN HAD BUTTERFLIES). THERE ARE LETTERS FROM DOCTORS, PHARMACISTS, SERVICE MEN. EVERYONE CLAIMED TO HAVE A COLLECTION OF “ART PHOTOS”. IT REALLY WAS AN ASTOUNDING VIEW OF LIFE IN THE 1950’S AND HOW THEY DEALT WITH SEX AND PORNOGRAPHY. ALSO INCLUDED ARE CUTOUTS THAT LYNNE PLACED, AND A FEW PHOTOS (NOT IN GREAT SHAPE) THAT WERE IN THE BOX.

I AM ALSO ENCLOSING A 1956 CALENDAR OF LYNNE O’NEILL

Dear Santa, if I could have but one wish this year…

It’s unlikely that I shall receive a windfall to equal the sum requested ($399.95 or “best offer) — or that if I should, that my husband would let me “invest” the tidy sum in such ephemera (though if you cared to give me the funds, or purchase the collection for me, it could be our little secret!), but I certainly covet it.

The idea of reading such intimate letters based on risque celebrity — from the Every Man to The Ultimate Woman — is so delicious I dare not ponder it any longer lest I click and buy it and end up with no way to pay rent.

*heavy sigh*

But aside from whining about my lack of discretionary income, aside even from waxing on about the insightful poetry of male psyche left in such an archive, I mention this for other reasons.

As a collector and a dealer (for yes, I deal in and sell collectibles as well as hunt, buy, research and write about them), I find something else fascinating about this auction listing; from the first part of the listing:

OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS, YOU WILL SEE A LOT OF LYNNE O’NEILL ITEMS ON EBAY. SHE RECENTLY PASSED AWAY, AND HER ESTATE WAS LIQUIDATED. MANY OF THE ITEMS OFFERED WERE AVAILABLE IN LARGE QUANTITIES, AND TO THE ESTATES CREDIT THEY REFUSED TO JUST GIVE IT AWAY. THEY HIRED INDIVIDUALS THAT UNDERSTOOD THE HISTORICAL VALUE OF ITEMS IN THE HOUSE, SO ITS UNLIKELY YOU’LL BE ABLE TO BUY IT SUPER CHEAP ON EBAY. THAT IS, UNLESS THE MARKET IS FLOODED, AND EBAY IS NO LONGER A VIABLE OPTION FOR THE O’NEILL MATERIAL. I DON’T EXPECT THAT TO HAPPEN THOUGH, BECAUSE WHILE THERE WAS A LOT OF ITEMS BY THE STANDARDS OF A SMALL COMMUNITY, I THINK THE NATIONWIDE DEMAND WILL FAR OUTWEIGH THE SUPPLY OF WHAT WAS AVAILABLE, AND PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO RISE.

THIS PARTICULAR ITEM, HOWEVER IS UNIQUE. NOONE ELSE HAS IT, AND NO ONE ELSE CAN OFFER IT TO YOU ON EBAY OR OFF.

Sellers of collectibles and dealers of antiques often find themselves in the place of rationalizing or even defending their actions — including pricing items for sale.

It’s a sad reality based on people’s ignorance and, yes, selfishness; they feel that dealers are somehow taking advantage of the folks they buy from and the folks they sell too. Never mind that dealers must be knowledgable enough to invest in what they buy and must wait for what they hope will be a return worthy of that investment — plus whatever other fees accrue while waiting for that sale. It’s not easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey.

Further proof of dealer defensiveness lies in the Q & A published at the auction listing:

Q: Dear Jbg and the estate, I have 41 years experience buying at and conducting estate sales in the Hempstead area.The people who ran Elaine/ Lynne sale are very nice people, with expertise in about 33% of the items they sell. These are priced correctly. The others are triple and one third of what the correct wholesaleish/ liquidation selling price should be. This puts them in the top echelon of tag sale services. Most of which are completely incompetent and clueless. Believe it or not these are the most successful ones as hordes of people will come days ahead and wait to take advantage of their stupidity. JBR Oct-12-10 A: I think they ran a great sale, with fair prices. I’ve read what I’ve written several times, and don’t think its negative. Its just my observation that people aren’t going to get things super cheap on ebay, because they were priced correctly at the sale. That’s a good thing. The tag sale people work for the estate, not for the buyers. I’m certain that they maximized the estate’s dollar. Others either would have priced to high , and not sold a thing or priced to low, and given it away. Q: That statement you made about the Estate of Lynne O ‘Neill is not completely true the Estate hired a 15 year experience antique and collectible specialist and the Estate is now meeting and will examine what transpired. So i highly suggest you Edit your statement about the estate sale Do you have a receipt for what you paid for to prove you paid alot in comparison the what you are selling your item for? Sincerely the Estate Oct-12-10 A: I think my statement is intended to mean that the Estate did not give things away, which is to the credit of the folks who ran the sale. Most folks would have sold the calendars and signs for a few bucks a piece to get rid of them, and then they’d be flooding ebay at $5 a piece. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Not sure what the panties sold for, but unless the folks running the sale failed to comprehend what they were (and that seems unlikely) they weren’t a dollar item. Sincerely, the customer.

I find it rather unprofessional that the eBay seller would feel the need to explain how the collectibles market works; even if under the guise of education (the interested collector will be more interested in provenance and price than an economics lesson), and odder still that the estate company would misread the auction listing so badly (of course, perhaps we’re reading an edited version?). But the fact remains, dealer are so harassed and worried about their reputations, they are willing to air more dirty laundry than the panties worn by a former pinup queen.

I just wish there was a way to use all of this to my advantage; rather anything to end up with this collection of vintage burlesque ephemera.

Stamps Of Approval

Don’t ask me how I found this post by Paul Overton of DudeCraft (it’s not that I wouldn’t tell you, I just haven’t a clue), but once I did, I had to share the story his lessons in postage stamps. See, he didn’t want to spend the extra money on putting postage on the postcards they were giving away at their festival (they were already 5K in the hole), but she did. And she was gonna do it, regardless of what he said. This is what happened:

Then, day one of the camp hits. People register, they get their packets, and that’s when I heard a girl say this: “Cool, free postcard. No way, it’s already got a stamp on it! Nice!”. I was furious. Furious in the way you are when you know that you’re learning a valuable lesson against your will. It didn’t stop there though. It became like my own personal nightmare. Everywhere I went people were either talking about the damned postcard or stopping me to thank me for including the stamp. At the first lunch, everybody was sitting on the lawn, and probably half of them were writing on postcards. Sharon was as right as she had ever been about a business decision and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

It’s funny because Sharon claims that she knows nothing about marketing, branding, or business really. I disagree, but I let her keep her Bohemian front because I think it’s cute. Whatever the case, she taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned during that festival. Give extra, and when your back is against the wall, give more.

I love not only the lesson learned, but the way he writes it. And I love all the letting writing/postcard sending that went on.

Direct Marketing Crank Response, 1917

An amazing entry I found in The Journal of American History, Volume XI, January-February-March, No. 1, (copyright, 1917, The National Historical Society) which speaks as much to direct marketing responses as it does to attitudes about media. The National Historical Society, seeking to increase membership and circulation of the journal, had been “prosecuting a very extensive postal card campaign.” One of the recipients of the direct marketing response cards sent in a reply:

Dear Sirs:

I respectfully decline to become a member of your society. I have absolutely no faith in American History. When the history of this great war will be written then you will have to take your information from the American newspapers, which have published more lies during the last 2 years than have been published since the beginning of the world. Yours truly,

C. SEITZ.

The journal also notes that the correspondence was sent to the New York Tribune, where a representative of the newspaper tried interview Mr. Seitz by telephone. All Mr. Seitz would say in reply was, “You are all liars. I would not speak to you.”

the-journal-of-american-history-page-220

Whatjamacallit Wednesday: What’s Left On Thrift Store Shelves May Not Be Anything To Write Home About, But…

What sits on thrift store shelves is quite telling about “us” as a society. On a recent visit to a thrift store, I found proof that we just aren’t writing letters anymore — and if we are, we don’t care so much about how well they are written.

Discarded & donated, two copies of different “how to write letters” books: Standard Book Of Letter Writing & The Someone Cares Encyclopedia of Letter Writing.

standard-book-of-letter-writingsomeone-cares-letter-writing-book