Tube City Almanac

June 28, 2005

Briefly Noted

Category: default || By jt3y

Short and sweet today, because it's still too hot to expend too much mental energy, and Lord knows, I have little enough to waste.


Paul Winchell, the voice of Jerry Mahoney, "Tigger" in the Disney adaptation of the Winnie the Pooh stories, and the man who developed the concept for the first artificial heart, died over the weekend at the age of 82. An obituary in the Washington Post has details of his truly remarkable career:

-- He overcame polio, which crippled his legs as a child, by forcing himself through grueling weight-training sessions;

-- He taught himself ventriloquism with a book that he purchased for a dime, which he had to borrow from his sister's boyfriend;

-- He went back to college at the age of 35, taking pre-med courses at Columbia in the 1950s;

-- He collaborated with Dr. Henry Heimlich (inventor of the Heimlich maneuver for people choking on food) on inventing the first artificial heart;

-- He later invented dozens of other products (some commercially successful, like the disposable razor, others not), including a variety of medical devices.

That's my definition of a true renaissance man, and it's all the more remarkable for the fact that while millions of people have heard his voice over the years, few knew his name.

Requiescat in pacem, and ta-ta for now, Mr. Winchell.


Speaking of the WaPo, One of my favorite writers, the Post's Gene Weingarten, had a column a few weeks ago about the in-house, on-staff comedian at Independence Air, the low-frills airline I took to Florida earlier this month. (You may recall that I was non-plussed to have Allison Janney doing the pre-flight safety recording. I forgot to mention that on the return flight, the recording was voiced by Richard Lewis.)

It turns out that Independence hired stand-up comedian Dave George (no, I never heard of him, either) to consult with the airline and read announcements at its Dulles airport hub. Here are some of his bon-mots, according to Weingarten:

"Independence Air is paging the passenger who valet-parked his Corvette Sting Ray ... Congratulations. Your car just won the drag race in the employee parking lot!"

"The weather in Newark is calm, 72 degrees. The weather in Syracuse is calm, 72 degrees. The weather in Hartford is calm, 72 degrees. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I'm looking at the weather here in the terminal."

"We have an important announcement for all United and USAirways employees: Your anger management classes begin in five minutes. And, please, go this time."

I guess it beats the hell out of the normal mumble-mumble that passes for announcements at airports, but he's not going to make anyone forget Jerry Seinfeld.

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