One of the many entrepreneurs inconvenienced by the end of Prohibition.
Eighty years ago today, Prohibition came to an end in the United States—an event still mournfully commemorated by gangsters, smugglers, and thugs as the darkest day in the history of organized crime.
An ordinary automobile will consume 6% less fuel if you name it Jeremy.
“West” is merely a cartographic convention, not a true direction, as you may easily verify for yourself by searching the globe for a West Pole.
Russian boots are manufactured mostly in Poland.
A journey of a thousand miles actually begins with at least two steps, and sometimes a great many more. A single step qualifies only as fidgeting.
A butterfly awakened in the middle of the night will not turn into a moth.
Though we speak as if we all saw the same color, a significant portion of the population sees the color mauve as a pale violet rather than pale purple.
Sea slugs seldom, if ever, slug anyone.
Contrary to what uninformed etymology might lead one to expect, a hamlet is not a small ham.
One hundred years ago today, Henry Ford’s factory started up its first moving assembly line. The factory assembled human beings to drive the burgeoning population of automobiles in the mushrooming suburbs of American cities. Ford’s line could assemble a complete adult in ninety-three minutes, where the pre-industrial process had taken nearly twenty years to achieve the same result.
ANNOUNCER. Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…
(Music: “Night Ride” by Sibelius.)
The Adventures of Solo Rider and his faithful Indian sidekick, Dharmavarapu! Galloping on his fiery white horse at the speed of sound, Solo Rider opposes wickedness wherever it threatens the innocent!
(Music: In full, then fade.)
(Sound: Shattering glass.)
DHARMAVARAPU. I say, old bean, it looks like a spot of bother over at that saloon.
SOLO RIDER. You mean the Lazy I down yonder?
DHARMAVARAPU. Well, that’s a jolly good first guess, but I meant this one over here, where the sheriff’s deputy just flew through the window.
SOLO RIDER. Oh.
DHARMAVARAPU. What do you say we act like good decent citizens and all that sort of rot and see if there’s anything we can do?
SOLO RIDER. Yes. Yes, for I am the Solo Rider, and I have sworn a solemn oath to right wrongs wherever wrongs are…um…wrong.
DHARMAVARAPU. Of course you have, old chap. My point exactly. Hitch your horse here—I’ll just tie up Bartholomew like this, and we’ll go inside.
(Sound: Swinging doors; ragtime piano.)
SOLO RIDER. Which one of you is the lawbreaker oppressing the innocent citizens of this bedraggled Western village?
DHARMAVARAPU. My money’s on the largish fellow with the black hat and the big revolver.
LAWBREAKER. Wall, I reckon yer Injun pal’s got it right, stranger. Waldo Lawbreaker’s the name, and I came here to get some good oppressin’ done afore the Christmas shoppin’ season.
SOLO RIDER. Desist at once, for I am the Solo Rider, and this is my faithful Indian companion Dharmavarapu, who never leaves my side, and we have sworn to oppose lawbreakers whenever they oppress the innocent!
LAWBEAKER. So how can you be a Solo Rider if’n you always go around with a faithful Injun companion?
SOLO RIDER. Beg pardon…?
LAWBREAKER. I mean, there’s two of you all the time, right? So you ain’t never ridin’ solo, right?
SOLO RIDER. I don’t get you.
DHARMAVARAPU. Please don’t puzzle him with numbers, there’s a good fellow. It interferes with his digestion, and then I’m the one who has to deal with the consequences.
LAWBREAKER. Wall, what’s he doin’ here with that dang fool mask on, anyway? What’s it made of? Construction paper?
SOLO RIDER. My regular mask is in the laundry. Now desist from your depredations, oppressor, or prepare to suffer the consequences.
LAWBREAKER. Mighty fancy gun you got there, stranger. But I got one fancier.
SOLO RIDER. Then you leave me no choice.
LAWBREAKER. Well, you done asked for it.
(Sound: Gunfire, automatic weapons, cannons, rockets, taxi horns, etc. Piano stops.)
SOLO RIDER. Your barrage was ineffectual, Lawbreaker. You missed me.
LAWBREAKER. You didn’t do no better, ya crazy masked coot. You couldn’t hit the side of a barn with that thing. Look at all the junk you shot up.
SOLO RIDER. Mere collateral damage in the fight against injustice.
LAWBREAKER. Wall, I ain’t payin’ fer that throw pillow. Say, is that a silver bullet?
SOLO RIDER. Yes, a silver bullet, the signature of Solo Rider wherever lawbreakers oppress the innocent.
DHARMAVARAPU. It’s really just chrome-plated. —(To Solo Rider.) Well, honestly, old top, one can’t just lie to the fellow.
MRS. LAWBREAKER (entering). Waldo! Waldo, is that you playin’ with guns again?
LAWBREAKER. Well, gee, maw, I…
MRS. LAWBREAKER. I cain’t leave you alone fer three minutes while I buy me a new bonnet fer Cyber Monday. Look how you shot up this saloon. Didn’t I tell you not to be so careless?
LAWBREAKER. Aw, maw, it wasn’t just me that…
MRS. LAWBREAKER. I don’t want none o’ your lip. You’re comin’ back to Buchanan Station with me right this instant.
LAWBREAKER (receding). Ow! Maw, that hurts my ear!
DHARMAVARAPU. Well, there’s not much more for us to do here, is there? Leave a dime on the bar for the throw pillow, and we’ll get going.
(Sound: Swinging doors.)
SOLO RIDER. And so injustice and oppression are defeated once again.
DHARMAVARAPU. Yes, of course. Good show, old chap, but I think you’re supposed to get on the horse the other way.
SOLO RIDER. Oh.
(Sound: Galloping hooves approaching.)
DHARMAVARAPU. I say, old bean, it looks like a posse headed this way.
SOLO RIDER. Where? I see no kitty cat.
DHARMAVARAPU. No, posse, from the infinitive of possum, meaning…
(Sound: Hooves come to a stop.)
SHERIFF. Say, have you fellows seen a big fellow, goes by the name of Waldo, travels with a lady he says is his mother? He’s wanted for throwing deputies through windows in five states and half a territory.
DHARMAVARAPU. Certainly, my good man. I believe you’ll find the lad and his aged companion meandering along the highway in the direction of Buchanan Station.
SHERIFF. Sorry, stranger, I don’t speak Apache.
DHARMAVARAPU. Oh, blimey. Um, “Ugh, him go thataway”?
SHERIFF. Oh! Thankee, pardner. Much obliged. Say, for an Injun, you’re mighty white. Come on, boys! Head him off at the pass! If we can find a pass.
(Sound: Galloping hooves.)
DHARMAVARAPU. And now, old bean, what would you say to a well-deserved rest in Carson City?
SOLO RIDER. You mean the place with the malt shop? I want a triple chocolate malted with quadruple whipped cream. Hi-ho, Chromeplate! Away! …I said hi-ho. Hi-ho? Come on! Stupid horse.
DHARMAVARAPU. Not like that, old sport. You have to give him a little poke like this.
(Sound: Whinny, galloping hooves receding.)
SOLO RIDER (receding into distance). Jeez Louise! Slow down, Chromeplate! Chromeplate! For the love of Mike, slow down! I’ll give you an apple!
DHARMAVARAPU. And for this I went to Cambridge. Well, come along, Bartholomew, my lad. Let’s trot. We’ll catch up with him in Carson City.
(Music: “Night Ride,” in and under for…)
ANNOUNCER. When you’ve been riding the dusty trail all day, nothing perks you up like the rich, satisfying flavor of Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil. Kids, don’t let imitators fool you. You can buy cheaper drinks made from the livers of cheaper fish, but only Malt-O-Cod is made from real barley malt and the very cream of the North Atlantic cod fisheries. Tell your parents you’ll throw a tantrum unless they bring you genuine Malt-O-Cod, the malt food drink that’s brain food.
(Music: In full, then out.)
The American holiday we call Thanksgiving has equivalents all around the world, reflecting the natural human desire to express gratitude to a higher power by means of selfish overindulgence.
In Merry England, the ancient Saxons used to celebrate Thanksgiving every year by sacrificing an investment banker to Thor.
In Quebec, Thanksgiving is known as “Le Jour de l’Action de grâce,” in keeping with the provincial government’s policy of assuring the dominance of the French language through sheer multiplication of words.
The Kirk of Scotland long ago banned all expressions of thanksgiving for earthly goods, on the grounds that God intends us to be miserable.
In antipodean South Africa, the Thanksgiving turkey is served upside-down, with the stuffing on the outside.
In North Korea, every day is Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s and Arbor Day and Easter and your birthday.
In China, on the People’s Day of Gratitude, the citizens come together and think of something nice to give the General Secretary. Usually it’s a necktie.
In five scenes, Giuditta tells the story of the doomed love affair between Octavio, a captain in some army or other, and Giuditta, a beautiful woman with the brains of a gerbil.
Scene 1. We meet Giuditta’s husband, but don’t get too attached to him because you’ll never see him again after this scene. We also meet an irrelevant couple, Pierrino and Anita, who keep popping up to sing lighthearted love songs for no good reason. Octavio comes marching by, looks up, and sees Giuditta standing on a balcony. He says, “What a beautiful girl! I’m leaving for Africa in an hour. Come with me.” She says “Sure, why not?”
Scene 2. In this scene, Pierrino and Anita ring the doorbell at Octavio and Giuditta’s house in North Africa, but Octavio and Giuditta don’t answer. This process takes quite a while. Finally Giuditta does answer the door, and the plot comes to a standstill while she deals with the irrelevant financial problems of Pierrino and Anita. Meanwhile, Antonio (a comrade from Octavio’s regiment) tells Ottavio that marching orders are expected.
Scene 3. Even though he’ll be back in a few weeks, Octavio can’t get up the nerve to tell Giuditta that he has to leave. He tells his friend Antonio that he’s afraid she’ll be unfaithful. Antonio says, “Come on, Octavio! Snap out of it!” (That’s a direct quote.) So finally Octavio does tell her. As you might expect, she gets hysterical, especially since he somehow manages to leave out what one would have thought was the vital information that he’ll be back in a few weeks. Her little gerbil brain concludes that, since he’s not willing to desert the army for her, he doesn’t love her, so she’ll go off and dance.
Scene 4. Giuditta has become a very popular dancer in a very popular dive in some big North African city. Oh, and Pierrino and Anita get back together, as if you cared about that. You probably hadn’t even noticed they were apart. Anyway, Giuditta is carousing with lords and dukes, and doesn’t even notice when Octavio, having deserted his regiment for her after all, comes back and stands around looking shocked.
Scene 5. It’s four years later. Octavio has become a cheap piano player in a fashionable restaurant. He complains that he still loves Giuditta, that he wants her back more than anything in the world. Just then, Giuditta of all people comes in and says, “I still love you. Take me back.” Octavio says, “No thanks.” So Giuditta is miserable and goes home heartbroken with her duke. Octavio goes back to complaining brokenheartedly about how he still loves Giuditta and wants her back more than anything in the world. The end.