What A Rank Amateur You Are!


“When a man asks you for your first college weekend, it’s a big deal.”  So begins the article in one of my 1958 Good Housekeeping magazines.  Pardon?  What’s a “college weekend’?  Is he taking her to a college where she’s never been?  Does he attend that college?  If it’s her “first” one, does that imply many will follow?  I’m so confused.  Reading further adds no clarity.

“Nothing marks you as a greenhorn more quickly than arriving at the ivy-covered stations with bulging bags.”  The station?  Like a train?  Certainly not a Greyhound Station.  Is it located near an Ivy League college?  (BTW, a greenhorn is a novice.  Nothing like a longhorn, or a Foghorn Leghorn.)


The rules also say, “The greatest threat to a return engagement is getting gay (read, garrulous) or daring (read, dizzy)…”  And if you DO CHOOSE to get gay or daring, “it proves nothing at all except what a rank amateur you are.”  Yeesh!  Rank amateur?  So harsh! So complicated!  I think I’d just bow out of the entire weekend altogether.

The whole thing reminds me of MIss Mona’s no-no rules from The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas:

And please don’t show us no tattoos
No hearts and flowers on your thigh
It’s downright tacky
Brands belong on cattle and that ain’t what we’re selling at Miss Mona’s

Maybe that’s why I never got a tattoo; I didn’t want to upset Dolly Parton.  Plus, if it’s trashy on a Chicken Ranch whore,  how does it look on a common non-prostitute?

dolly2The ladies all sing, “Just lots of good will, and maybe one small thrill, but there’s nothing dirty going on!”  Hmmm.  Maybe THAT’S a college weekend?

I Don’t Always Drink Beer, But When I Do…


…it’s Dos Equis.  Actually, that’s not true.  I very rarely drink beer, and I can’t recall the last time I had a Dos Equis.  But the fact that that tagline is in my head means Dos Equis did a hell of a job marketing their beer with their pitchman, The World’s Most Interesting Man–who, incidentally, reminds me of Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino, the star of Fantasy Island, which came on after Love Boat.  It always comes back to Love Boat for me.  It’s my seven degrees of Kevin Bacon.   

Women and wine go hand-in-hand.  You’ve seen the ecards.

wineGrapes are healthy, right?  Actually, these ecards seem kind of pathetic.  The women are often alone.  But beer is where it’s at for socializing.  Check out this ad for beer in the Fifties:

"Friends from across the Lake"
“Friends from across the Lake”

It’s not wine, women, and song, but it’s beer, women, and song.  The broads are dressed to the nines, spinning tunes and knitting, while casually-dressed men smoke pipes, throw back a pint, and wave to chums down at the pier, enjoying a twilight canoe ride.  The soft glow of the lantern invites you in to the scene.  I love it!  And why wouldn’t I?  It was painted by Haddon Sundblom, the man who brought us the genius of the Coca-Cola Santa Claus, the standard by which we measure all shopping mall Santas.

Another work of art is this watercolor by John Gannam, “Around the Swimming Pool,” used in an ad for the U.S. Brewers Foundation.

L062848Keep in mind that this was 1948, so everyone was thin.  And yes, everyone was fairskinned, so not every token ethnicity is represented, the way they are sprinkled in to department store ads in current acceptable proportion these days.  Just get past that, you PC freaks.  The focus here is on the technique.  This is ART.  You an keep your abstracts; I’ll take mine uplifting like this.  A sunny day, a refreshing creek (clearly without water moccasins), stylish kerchiefs, Betty Grable legs, snacks at the ready…  Who wouldn’t want this life?  Even the most devout teetotaler is not immune to those Tang-tinted mugs o’ ale.

I imagine that creek runs down past the neighbor’s back yard, a few doors down, where the festivities continue.

Douglas Crockwell's "Birthday Party for Dad"
Douglas Crockwell’s “Birthday Party for Dad”

What a sweet back yard!  Is that a waterfall in the background?  The current looks pretty strong there in the foreground, but that’s not keeping Esther Williams from playfully flirting splashing her friend’s husband, the one hiding her first trimester pregnancy in the robe.  Seriously, who wears a swim cap to a Frank Lloyd Wright back yard shindig?  She must have just had her hair did.  Or maybe it’s tinted pink, from an inept Beauty School drop-out.  Either way, beer belongs.  You better recognize.  

Starring In Our Own Late Late Show

bogartI always liked this image from one of my Hollywood golden years picture books.  An interesting snippet from their lives.  But it also seemed sad, since Humphrey Bogart only lived a few more years.

Esophageal cancer ultimately claimed him, and he only weighed 80 pounds (36 kg) when he died on January 14, 1957.  The things cancer can do to a body.  That’s another thing I don’t get.  I guess he was right when he said, “Things are never so bad they can’t be made worse.”

I suppose that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, though.

“Look, Bogey!  I see a pack of unfiltered Chesterfields that you haven’t smoked yet!”


And what happened to eight glasses of water a day?


Live and let live, I guess.  We all have our vices and our downfall.  His widow, Lauren Bacall once said, “You can’t start worrying about what’s going to happen.  You get spastic enough worrying about what’s happening now.”  Amen.


Schnozzola And The Elongated Appendage

I was Googling strabismus (don’t ask), which reminded me of proboscis, which reminded me (or–as my son says–remembered me) of proboscis monkeys, which are the bomb.  If you haven’t seen them before, consider your life full now.  If they seem familiar, they might bear a resemblance to a sepia photo of an ancestor from the Old Country.


I always want to pronounce it “probiscus,” but I think that’s because I grew up in Hippietown, where the city council mandated all hip restaurants serve hibiscus tea.  I love me some hibiscus tea.

This fella looks like Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two:


Now I’m not going to go all National Geographic on you and load you up with stats and preach how proBOScis monkeys are endangered, how they are the primate world’s most prolific swimmers, or how silly they can be when hitting the water with a belly flop SPLAT. Pinky swear.

I just want you to recognize their uniqueness.  This guy has swagger.


At first, this looks like an ad for Reach toothbrushes or dental hygiene, but I think he’s just chewing a stick. All in a day’s work.


Now pretend I’m Oprah Winfrey, narrating the Discovery Channel’s “Life” series, giving you the 411 on all animals as if she created them herself, like she’s some Miss Know-It-All Omniscient Oprah, Queen of All That Is And Will Be.  Sorry.  Now here goes in my alto Winfrey voice: The males use their bulbous, pendulous noses to attract females.  If that seems far-fetched, consider Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts. (I still love you, Lyle.)

lyleOr the most obvious comparison, Jimmy Durante.  If you don’t know who Jimmy Durante is, do yourself a favor and Google him.


He’s actually not THAT scary.  And he did manage to wed two wives, so the nose evidently was no deterrant.


This next shot makes me want to start a caption contest.  Ever since Junior was born, it’s like I don’t even matter to you.  Whatevs.  I’m over it.


Well, I’m off to enjoy a tall glass of iced hibiscus tea now.  Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!

Swellest Menu Art, Part III

Mayflower Menu
Mayflower Menu

Today is the final installment of vintage menus.  The above pic is a Thanksgiving menu, a feast that Americans celebrate at the end of November, which makes all politically correct people get their panties in a wad because Pilgrims and Indians (now called Native Americans) could never possibly have shared a squash and a smile.  But whatever.  We watch football with our families, gorge ourselves on turkey and casseroles, and save room for pie.  Come to think of it, why would anyone be eating in a RESTAURANT on Thanksgiving?  Anyhoo, here are the feast details (one may click to enlarge).


Those prices are pretty steep for modern times, and this menu is at least twenty years old.  Mercy!

Here is a cute breakfast menu from Varadero International in Cuba, all in Spanish.


pic102Coffee was A QUARTER.  Can you imagine buying a beverage for ONE coin?  What would the tip be?  A nickel?  Did waitresses walk around with jingling aprons as dimes clinked against pennies?  Consider the pain involved if she chose to “make it rain up in here.”

The next menu is from the Alta Mira Continental Hotel in San Francisco.  How this hideous design ever got approved is beyond me, as it’s ugly as a 1970s appliance set.


However, I would be willing to overlook that if I could still procure either the filet mignon or the Half Lobster Delight for under $5, as advertised.


Bratten’s Grotto in Utah included actual photos on their large fold-out menu:

Cattlemen’s in Fort Worth–in bright taxi-cab yellow–had an interesting cocktail menu, which included both a Tio Pepe and a Tia Maria.

This final menu shows the name of its owner in the left corner, and its age, with the dates from 1961-1972.  I love the sea foam green, the cheese saltines, and the ten ways to prepare a potato.

Thanks for peeking back in time with me!

Sweller Menu Art, Part II

Today we have the second installment of menu art.  This disturbing menu is from L’Etoile in Nob Hill, San Francisco.  Are the cherubs protecting them from harmful UV rays?  I’m concerned that m’lady is self-tuning in to Tokyo.  Perhaps she is listening with her bosom–or is that Madonna’s great-great-great grandmother doing colonial vogueing?


L'Etoile In Nob HillNext is a Maison des Crepes, where you can get a crepe, salad bar, AND a drink for only $1.65.  The Crepe Devil looks intriguing…


pic096I don’t know where this is from, but frankly, it gives me the willies.  The incomplete artwork looks like a storyboard scene from a Hitchcock film, and the writing is very aggressive, like they’re peeved they even had to bother with a menu.  Just trying to read it out loud makes me sound like the Swedish Chef on The Muppets.


pic098We’ll end with this festive Exposition Fish Grotto, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, since it’s “World-Famous.”  Note more naked cherubs, getting merry and gay off a barrel of Paul Masson.



Yes, I also am thinking of Orson Welles right now.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink And Operate Chainsaws


I’ve heard of helping your buddies move and then sharing a case of beer, but this is a different breed of cat.

Here’s how I think it all went down.  Dapper Dan left the firm early, but not before enlisting Kip and Truman from accounting as his partners in landscaping.  They floored their Studebakers to suburbia with an urgency mandating no time to change out of their office duds or set their fedoras down.  Curse you, early sunset!  In the past two hours, Dan has felled a tree, while Kip and Truman have laid the steps along the pathway.  Won’t Betty be surprised?

Now it’s time for a break.  Kip raises his spade, and Dan tops off his (third) glass of sociable whiskey (it pairs well with Pall Malls).  Don’t snag your trousers while you straddle that trunk.  And save some Corby’s for the other two.  You remember what happened last time, Dan.

In Pursuit of the Hairy-Nosed Wombat


Every American girl who ever saw Grease wanted to be Sandy Olsson, to look like her and speak in her cool Australian accent. Elementary school had taught us about the nation’s indigenous kangaroos and koala bears, so we knew it must be the coolest place on earth.

When Elle McPherson graced the covers of our magazines and Nicole Kidman our movie screens, we wondered if they only churned out attractive people.  Even our own celebrities were not immune to their charms.  We couldn’t figure out why anyone would ever want to leave happy smiley Dennis Quaid, but Meg Ryan did it for an Aussie.  Then Hugh Jackman and Keith Urban showed up on our radar, and that was all she wrote.  By the time Take  Home Chef debuted on TLC, American women could only respond with, “Yes, please.”  Have you not seen Curtis Stone?

So I did what anyone else would do: I Google Mapped the directions to see how far Sydney was from my home.  Google gave me 187 steps, #81 being “Sail across the Pacific Ocean,” and the last being “Turn right onto George Street.”  It says it would take 503 hours to travel the 15,000 plus miles.  The Proclaimers said they would walk 500 miles, but even THEY would not walk 15,000.  I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.  So it was decided.  Australia was no longer my destination nation.

That was, until this morning, when Jack Hanna described the tough armored bum of a Tasmanian wombat, and I melted at the sight of its face.   Look at that.


Then I found out wombats viciously maul people, probably because it is in their Australian blood to eliminate humans.  What is up with that?  But then I saw this picture, and I forgave them.  I figured they must have been provoked.  He’s clearly not ripping her face off.


However, I read Bill Bryson’s In A Sunburned Country, so I know Australia is chock-full of the world’s deadliest creatures.  Bryson made it clear that venomous creatures lurk at every corner, waiting to fell you.  No snorkeling at Batt Reef for me.

But then I saw THIS!


I’m so confused.  Should I brave the outback and its lethal creatures or just stay home?

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