I post a weekly diary of the historical notes, arts & science items, foreign news (often receiving little notice in the US) and whimsical pieces from the outside world that I featured this past week in "Cheers & Jeers". For example .....
As Bob Dylan once sang, "We live in a political world" ....
OK, you've been warned - here is this week's
tomfoolery material that I posted.
ART NOTES - a mixed media exhibit of works by Sloane Bibb ends at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center in Decatur, Alabama this coming Saturday.
AMONG the casualties in the tension over the fate of Egypt is that of the Mediterranean city of Alexandria - with a strong Islamist presence in the midst of an easy-going cheerful populace.
SCIENCE NOTES - if you have not yet seen the Cassini spacecraft photo of the Dark side of Saturn - please click that link; it's worth 30 seconds of your time.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is now at a local animal shelter in Arapiraca, Brazil after being ... umm ... 'detained' while it was walking into a prison's main gate. Strapped to its body (with tape) were contraband goods for prisoners (such as drill bits, files, a mobile phone and charger, plus earphones).
As a prison spokesperson noted, "It's tough to find out who's responsible for the action ... as the cat doesn't speak."
TIME MARCHES ON - according to one source: there are only fifteen people alive in the world who were born before 1900 and have been verified.
THE OTHER NIGHT yours truly - with the one-year anniversary of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia taking place today - hosted the Top Comments diary, which looked at the most hated man in Italy (Cap'n Francesco Schettino) and a Coast Guard captain, who became an unlikely 'hero' by uttering a famous sentence.
WHILE many people are surprised to learn that the legendary rock drummer Ginger Baker - whom I was lucky enough to see at Cream reunion concerts both in London and New York in 2005 - is even still alive: at age 73, he is as cantankerous as ever (as a new documentary makes clear).
ART NOTES - the 5th biennial governor's juried exhibition of works by in-state residents is at the South Dakota Museum of Art in Brookings through January 27th.
AFTER YEARS of tough economic times, the Canadian province of Nova Scotia sees hope in oil exploration, shipbuilding and hydroelectric projects.
BRAIN TEASER - try this Quiz of the Week's News from the BBC.
WEDNESDAY's CHILD is one of several semi-feral kittehs who help keep a Virginia pub rodent-free, with a cat whisperer who looks after them.
ART NOTES #2 - a previously stolen painting by Henri Matisse - valued at $1m - was found by an art recovery specialist in London.
WHILE MANY UNIVERSITIES are eager to offer programs in rapidly growing areas of the world, China is (unsurprisingly) proving to be a difficult fit.
FRIDAY's CHILD is one of the feral kittehs at a sanctuary in Rome, Italy that has existed for nearly twenty years - but because it is situated in the ruins of where Julius Caesar was killed, some officials are seeking its closure - and now a compromise solution is being sought.
..... and finally, for a song of the week ......................................... no, this isn't a profile about a musician: but of a different type of entertainer, for whom music was only one way to entertain young people (of all ages). And it turns out that the ventriloquist Paul Winchell not only was the voice behind numerous cartoon characters, but also something of an avid inventor and activist: who led a troubled life off-stage, yet made his mark in many ways.
He was born Paul Wilchin in New York on December 21, 1922 - who contracted polio at age six but overcame both the disease and a speech impediment. He was obviously influenced by Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy - at age 13, Winchell appeared on radio doing impressions of Bergen.
By age 28, Winchell (present at the advent of television in 1950) appeared on TV with his sharp-tongued partner Jerry Mahoney - who was carved by Chicago figure-maker Frank Marshall. Later, the dull-witted Knucklehead Smiff was created by Jerry Layne. Both of these figures are in the Smithsonian Institute now (with two early replicas belonging to magician David Copperfield).
And over the course of the next three decades, Winchell with either (or both) of his sidekicks could be found on the tube: with Ed Sullivan offering him several chances to perform. Perhaps his best-known show was Winchell-Mahoney Time - which ran from 1965-1968 - and whose signature line was "Scotty, waddy, doo-dah".
Two decades later, Winchell won a $17.8 million dollar judgment against Metromedia TV for destroying tapes of those shows - and since Metromedia was later to become part of the Fox broadcast network ... well, that seems like a fair award to me.
Winchell was less known for his skills as an inventor - with 30 patents to his credit. Although it was only a crude early prototype, Winchell developed an artificial heart which he donated to the University of Utah. In addition, he worked on designs such as a flameless cigarette lighter and battery-heated gloves.
Always restless, in 1974 he graduated from the Acupuncture Research College of Los Angeles and practiced acupuncture. In the 1980's he testified before a Congressional committee with Ed Asner and Richard Dreyfuss, trying (unsuccessfully) to obtain financing for the Tilapia Project - a plan to cultivate production of the tilapia fish for undernourished people in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his later years, he became quite spiritual and ran a website devoted to the subject. He made a point of adding:
"It is essential to understand that true freedom of Religion must include freedom from Religion."But perhaps his most-lasting legacy may be: all of the voices he provided to cartoon characters. These days - with LOL, IMHO and all of the other commonly-used computer acronyms - Winchell voiced the words to a much earlier acronym from the mouth of Tigger on Disney's Winnie the Pooh with "TTFN - TaTa for Now".
In addition, Winchell was the voice for numerous other cartoon characters - some include:
- the Siamese cat in Disney's The Aristocats ..
.. as well as Gargamel of "The Smurfs" ...
... plus Fleegle the Beagle in the "Banana Splits" ....
...and my favorite: as Dick Dastardly of the "Wacky Races" with his catch-phrases "Drat, DRAT ....... and double-drat!" along with "Muttley: do something!!!!!"
His 2004 autobiography Winch - which was released when he was age 81 - reveals a troubled and unhappy inner personality, with substance abuse and many, many, unresolved issues with his mother and ex-wives.
This caused a split with his children that lasted until Paul Winchell's death in June, 2005 at the age of 82. His daughter April - herself a voice actress - was among those hurt by the words he used against her mother. She wrote after learning of her father's death (which is no longer on-line), "If there is another place after this one, it is my hope that he now has the peace that eluded him on earth". But she has said she avoids speaking publicly about him - well aware that he brought many a smile to people's faces over the years.
While not a musician, songs were an important part of Paul Winchell's TV programs. One popular tune he used was the 1927 tune (written by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, Robert A. K. King) called I Scream for Ice Cream - and below you can hear Paul Winchell in his later years - along with Jerry Mahoney - "perform" a pre-recorded, lip-synched version (of which the audience was fully aware of)........ that's still nostalgic to watch.
If you got chocolate
we’ll take vanoola!
we’ll take baloney!
I scream, you scream,
we all scream for ice cream!
Rah! Rah! Rah!