Monday, April 27, 2015

The Funnies - The 30 Per Cent Tax Bracket (1922)

Conscientious Burglar: I regret to say, sir, that I shall have to ask you to take back a hundred of this; a cent more would boost my income into the 30 per cent tax class.
Life Magazine, January 5, 1922

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Lyrids are Coming...

Over the next two nights you might be able to catch a few shooting stars. The Lyrids are said to be an average shower, but they're also known for meteors with bright, lasting tails as well as the occasional window-shaking sonic boom and they peak on April 22nd and 23rd this year. The Lyrids are born of dust from a long-period comet with the catchy name C/1861 G1 Thatcher. So, button up your coat and spend some time in the dark, weather permitting you might get a good show.

For fun I thought I'd add a piece of sheet music art. Falling Star was part of the Ziegfeld Review Follies of 1909. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find a recording of the song, but the artwork is really lovely. It features a beautiful, Gibson Girl-esque woman embodying a meteorite, streaking to Earth, trailing fire. In this cover, we revisit a couple that I first referenced in my Full Corn Moon blog post some time ago, Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth.

Nora Bayes (born Elanor "Dora" Goldberg) was a popular American singer, comedienne and actress from Joliet, Illinois. She started her career in Chicago's vaudeville at the age of 18, becoming a vaudeville circuit (and eventually Broadway) star after a cross-country tour that started in San Francisco, California and ended in New York City, New York. In 1908 she married composer, lyricist, and fellow vaudeville performer Jack Norworth who had written the lyric for Take Me Out to the Ballgame that same year. The pair were together for a short five years before divorcing, but in that time they collaborated not only the 1908 and 1909 productions of Ziegfeld's Follies, but also the immensely popular Shine On Harvest Moon. The two would divorce in 1913.

After parting with Jack, Nora put her efforts behind the war effort (World War I), recording two of the best known songs from that conflict: Over There and How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)? Jack's compositions include Meet Me in Apple Blossom Time, Sing an Irish Song, and the sequel to Shine On Harvest Moon, Turn Off Your Light Mr. Moon Man. Nora would pass in 1928 after an unsuccessful operation for cancer and would wind up buried in an unmarked grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Jack would die of a heart attack in Laguna Beach, California in 1959.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Funnies - Intimate Glimpses of American Generals of Industry (1922)

Intimate Glimpses of American Generals of Industry
No. 18. A burglar inadvertently enters the Colt residence
Life Magazine, January 5 1922

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day

Happy National Grilled Cheese Day, a day that's practically the definition of a festival of cheese! This 1955 ad for the American Dairy Association from Life Magazine presents the post-war wasp with the staples of banal mid-century American life: processed loaf cheddar, cheddar slices, and cottage cheese. The photos are pure fifties food-tastrophe, over-ripe looking plastic with ominous side dishes and awkward staging.  In the "Slice It" frame, what exactly is the moldy-looking log in bondage? In the "Melt It" frame, notice the eye-of-Sauron on liver pate appetizers and the Frodo's missing finger fondue? And in the "Glamorize It" frame, check out the phlegm and Pepto-Bismol aspic with toast points. Okay, so maybe this wasn't the ad for grilled cheese day.

Unlike many ads of the era, the copy actually explains what the mystery dishes in the photos are supposed to be. Interesting difference between '55 and now, cream cheese apparently was a dish until itself. Hardly anyone would just eat cream cheese now, but then they'd cube it and put it on a tray. Still, I'm not sure how they got chili sauce and mayo to turn cheese dip pink...  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dieselpunk Saturday: Monofail

What's the difference between Popular Science and Astounding Tales in the 1930's? Astounding Tales cost 20 cents an issue and had stories by the likes of C. L. Moore. Popular Science, on the other hand, just had wild and baseless ideas with fancy covers designed to sell copies. I'm trying to figure out the benefit of a blade-driven monorail, but I'm coming up empty. I'm equally perplexed by the rudder-looking tail at the back of the vehicle. I've had the good fortune to sit in the cab of a diesel-powered train and I know that there's an engineer, but no steering. Anyway, it's fun to look at and very Dieselpunk, so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Yardstick of Protein...

November 6, 1944 and a new way of measuring protein is developed...the meat stick. How many meats of protein have you eaten today? Ad from Life Magazine.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter Everyone!

What does Easter Sunday make you think of? Chicken sidecar races! Or at least chicks riding in egg-shell sidecars attached to a bunny. Or maybe...oh to hell with it, happy Easter.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Full Moon: Hula Dreams

Ah, April in Indiana, a time when the weather definitely isn't exactly fit for grass skirts, though it does make us dream of the South Pacific, warm breezes, and the moonlight glittering on the turquoises water.

Hula Dreams was written by Lee Roberts was a prolific composer with possibly his most famous composition being Smiles. He would eventually become vice-president of QRS Music where he recorded hundreds of piano rolls under his own name and the pen name Stanford Robar. His partner (both on Hula Dreams and on Smiles), the partially blind lyricist J. Will Callahan, also contributed lyrics for the 1913 pop song Gasoline which will be our full moon song for the month of May when all of Indiana turns to thoughts of auto racing.

I wish I could have come up with the music for Hula Dreams, but nobody seems to have added it to the YouTube archives.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Everything New is Old Again - Wind Power (1923)

Harnessing the power of the wind has been around for centuries, but we're not talking about pumping water or milling grain here, we're talking electricity. In the present day you'll find lobbyists on both sides of the wind issue, those telling you it'll re-green the planet and bring back the do-do bird and others saying it's just hooey and is making cold slaw out of migrating birds and bats. The thing is, it's nothing new.

Case in point, the cover of the December 1923 issue of Popular Science Monthly. Right there in all it's illustrated glory is an image of a wind turbine producing electricity to power a distant city. This is nearly a hundred years before we'd actually get around to making the idea a reality. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Happy April Fool's Day!

Happy April Fool's Day from the dancing cats and Fedora the Flounder!

Quote for April

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.

- Mark Twain