why does james blunt sound like maurice gibb?

No, the title of this post has nothing to do with the content, but I just heard James Blunt's new song '1973' and it sounds like it came directly from 1973. WTF, James Blunt. It's 2007, and as far as I know, it's not the year of the cat. According to a recent poll in the U.K., his music is more irritating than hangovers, noisy neighbors, bad hair days and stepping in dog shit. I'd fight them on the dog shit one, since I tend to wear hiking boots with a pretty intricate tread pattern, but the rest is right on.

This post was supposed to be about cow pasture golf, but I'm going to wait on that one.

Instead, I'm going to talk about our recent trip to Shelburne museum, which is an amazing place to visit if you've never been there. It's a 40 acre collection of stuff put together by one rich woman who collected things like the original Ticonderoga paddle boat, the last manned lighthouse on Lake Champlain, and various historic buildings from all over the northeast. Check out their website -- there's a lot more I didn't mention. Other than getting rear-ended by an old guy while sitting on the ferry on the way over to Vermont, the trip was uneventful.

We spent a little time in the Apothecary, which was pretty enlightening.

They have a extensive collection of old medicines, and reading the labels was hilarious. It seems there wasn't much in the way of a "federal drug administration" back in the 1800's, so if it didn't kill you, it was legal to sell as medicine. Most of the medicines on display seemed to have at least a 20% alcohol content, so I figure they were pretty much guaranteed to make you feel better no matter what your ailment -- at least for a little while. Alcohol is nothing if not nature's pain reliever.

Everything cured everything back then. You could drink one thing and it would cure impure blood, cramps, stomach aches, rheumatism, nerve problems and the dreaded "female sickness" which was "an awful internal trouble that is wearing out their lives." (Symptoms included nervousness, fragility, weak nerves, irritability, fretfulness, ringing in the ears, and sleepless nights.)*

I took some pictures of my favorites.

Dr. True's Elixir - If your kids have any complaints whatsoever, all they need is Dr. True and his fabulous elixir.

You know why? Because it cures all children's complaints. All of them. They don't like school? Dr. True will fix it. Don't want to eat their vegetables? Dr. True will make it happen. A bottle of Dr. True's Elixir across the side of the head and they will eat broccoli until long after the bleeding stops. In addition to curing ALL children's complaints, it works specifically hard to expel worms. You might think that the act of curing all complaints would include expelling worms (since I'm sure if you had worms you'd be complaining about it constantly) but who am I to contradict the Doctor? It's impossible to call him a liar -- not when he has the last name of True. There's no way you can go up against that and come out ahead. This stuff must have sold like crazy since everyone knows a worm-free kid is a happy kid.

Dr. Davis's Laxakola - Apparently, pooping was a pretty big issue back then too. It seemed like every other bottle up there either got you going or stopped you from going. This is one of the kickstarter formulas. You'd think Dr. Davis would look a little happier if he had just dropped the kids off at the pool. Physician, heal thyself and all that.

Not only does it supposedly get the factory back in production, it also cures "all conditions resulting from derangement and inactivity of the stomach, liver, kidneys and bowels."

And believe me, deranged bowels are nothing to mess with, especially when they don't care whether they live or die. They take hostages, they hole up, and before you know it, SWAT teams are involved, things are exploding left and right, and it doesn't end well for anyone.

Lydia E. Pinkham's Sanative Wash - The smugly smiling picture of Lydia speaks volumes. Or, if not volumes, sentences. Or maybe it's just one sentence. To me, that sentence is, "My toolbox is as clean as a whistle, and it feels fabulous."

I'm not a woman so I don't know a lot about the daily rigors of keeping things daisy-fresh down there in the old Pinkham, but to me it seems like this stuff has a lot of..well, acids in the active ingredients. And a little math and common sense would lead me to believe that:

Acid + Delicate Female Parts = A band I never liked.

They do eventually tell you what you were supposed to sanitize with it, just in case it wasn't obvious from Lydia's smiling face. I think they had to spell it out because it's conceivable that if you didn't know, you could be happily washing your face with the stuff.

Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic - This one was lighter on the alcohol, being for babies and all, but heavier on the corn syrup. It supposedly cures the chills and fever associated with malaria.

Judging by the picture, and the tagline next to it that says "Original Laughing Baby Trademark" I can only assume one of these things is true -- (1) people had horrifically ugly children back then, or (2) this stuff has some nasty side effects.

But it is pleasant and effective, even if it does eventually make your baby look like a 35-year-old laughing midget with a receding hairline. Is it just me, or does he look like he should be smoking a cigar and running a pawn shop?

Oh, and it's tasteless. If you don't count the lemon flavoring.

Which, when it comes to malaria remedies, I never do.

*I think I might have it.


  1. Anonymous2:04 PM

    And the face on that baby is the reason I have not had one yet.

    Holy shit someone get a priest for that child.

  2. Oh gosh, JV. i would be cracking up right now, but my kids are yelling and I am having a hard time concentrating. Do you think they still make that Dr. True's stuff?

    Good call on the baby's description. He reminds me of the mayor of Munchkin Land on the Wizard of Oz.

  3. Great post,very funny shit, my wife wants to know why I am laughing my ass off,the baby does look like a midget. We had a kid in the neighborhood named Leo who had worms, we told everyone we took him fishing just for the bait.

  4. That baby looks like he should be in a traveling freak show. Makes me shudder.

  5. Don't ask how I know, but I believe that "feminine hygiene" back in the "day" used to be a "euphemism" for "birth control." Thus the acid. To kill off any white n' wrigglies that might result in another mouth to feed.

    the more you knooowwww!

  6. I'm thinking I need some of Dr. True's stuff ... for MYSELF!

    Acutally aside from the woman bottled goodie, I could probably ingest all of it just to get me through the week. Pooping and malaria symptom free all week long.

    Thank you for the laugh!

  7. Anonymous4:55 AM

    'Bob, Junior's got the flu. He's been up crying all night'.

    'Fuck it. Just get 'em drunk and smack him upside the head with the bottle... that'll shut him up.'

  8. Anonymous11:40 AM

    I am waiting with bated breath on the cow pasture golf thing!

    Dr. True does sound like a miracle worker--can we still get it on the black market?

  9. J. Blunt
    Oh well crap I kind of liked him but now I'm only going to be thinking about the bee-gee's when I hear his music. Thanx for that. ;)

  10. OHMIGOD!! That was so funny!!!

    My grandmother used to have a bottle of liquid belladonna - a deadly poison. When she died in 1953, my mother took the bottle. I remember her bringing it home like she had inherited some priceless heirloom. Anytime anyone had a belly ache, she would put a few drops in a glass of water and voila!! the stomach ache went away. I think we had that bottle for 30 years before it ran out. Who knows how long my grandmother had it. No expiration dates back then!! Try and find something NOW that works like that stuff did - no such luck.

  11. Anonymous6:48 PM

    "Acid + Delicate Female Parts = A band I never liked."

    That was almost as funny as the Dramatic Prairie Dog.
    I think I pee'd a little.

  12. Excellent post, JV! You caught me off-guard with the Flaming Lips, however. I fully expected to see "Hole" featuring Courtney Love when I hit that link.

  13. I LOVE those old apothecary stores! Sounds like a great time, and hopefully you picked up a tonic for your female sickness, JV.

  14. Oh! And the band you never liked. I second that for so many reasons...

    (I spit Diet Coke through my nose when I clicked that link to it's destination!)

  15. Anonymous3:07 PM

    I love Victorian quack medicine.

  16. um, maybe i am slow, but from what does one expel worms?

  17. Anonymous11:24 PM

    The miniature Mickey Rooney is a classic. The original Mini-Me, assuming "Me" is Mickey Rooney.

  18. Nessa, these days you can get plastic surgery. Although that kid's assface might need more work than modern technology can accomplish.

    Nicole, You don't need Dr. True, you just need Dr. Bombay Sapphire. He'll quiet them right down.

    Scoop, thanks. Could Leo produce fresh nightcrawlers on demand? Cuz that's a talent right there.

    Cruiser, picture him in a little clown outfit, holding a very small axe.

    ESC, you are probably right. rock breaks scissors, paper covers rock, scissors cut paper and acid kills wrigglies.

    SP, you are welcome. Good luck with your week.

    Miriam, thanks. I didn't think it was great, but I never know what's funny to other people.

    Alan, do you know my neighbors?

    Diva, I'm thinking of mixing up a batch and selling it again. I'll let you know.

    Lindy, It's either the bee gees or Al Stewart. It's all I can hear.

    SSB, that's pretty cool. I think you still *can* get that one on the black market.

    Alex, that prairie dog is one of my favorites. It's perfect comedy, and all the other variations on it are just lame in comparison. Sorry about the pee.

    KK, I think CL might actually benefit from some acid down there. Just saying.

    Liz, I think you already did. I'm not sure what it is about the flaming lips. I know from a musician standpoint I probably should like them, but I just find them middle of the road. They don't excite me.

    Sassy, I did. I think it's working. I'm home today doing laundry. Wait, maybe it's not.

    AG - I always wanted to collect the electric medical "machines" but they are all out of my price range. Plus, what would you do with them? Open a clinic?

    Joe, the answer is clearly: "From whatever orifice you are able."

    Fiar, Mickey Rooney as a child. Good call.

    My verification word was Yoans. That almost sounds like some quack tonic. Yoan's Miracle Cure.

  19. Screw that, I would never give my children alcohol....that would be less for me!!!!
    What I really need is a babysitter, a hotel room, and maybe my husband, but he is not completely essential. I haven't been out of my house in 2 1/2 years without at least one kid in tow.
    You wanna come babysit for me?? You can teach them how to build stairs while I am gone.

  20. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Hey, Johnny. Thanks for the comment. Alas, I don't know what the kid's response was. Either she didn't have one, or I just couldn't hear it. Sad, because I would love to know the kid's reasoning.

    BTW: This post of yours has too many funny things for me to choose to comment on.

    Do I agree with your thoughts on the inexplicable music of James Blunt? Or do I ask if Dr. True's elixir would work on the laughing baby's numerous complaints? (No baby could look like that without at least complaining about his mother having repeatedly dropped him on his face)

  21. First time here and you've made me laugh in less than 30 seconds.

    Love you!

  22. That baby looks like a cross between Andy Rooney and the actor Michael J. Pollard.

    An old friend used to collect old weird products like the ones you saw in the museum. One was a small tin of a skin lightening cream marketed to African-Americans, and the main ingredient listed was ... MERCURY! Can you imagine?!

  23. LOL - the labels are great! I also thought that the picture was of a bald older guy. I don't think its really a picture of a baby...

    BTW James Blunt always sounded like Maurice Gibb and yeah I find him incredibly annoying.

    @evilsciencechick - wow I bet you are right! Especially since birth control wasn't exactly legal or well developed. Man you really learn something from reading these blogs.

  24. http://www.thehouseontherock.com/

    If you liked the place you went (and I'm thinking I might have to trek there from Ohio, sometime), I think you'll like the place above!

  25. Anonymous6:18 PM

    I actually worked at the Shelburne Museum for a summer growing up - actually a lot of cool stuff to see there. Check out one of the kitchens in the old houses and try to figure out what that stuff was used for!

    You're a new guilty pleasure for me. Thanks for taking the time to make us all laugh.

  26. Yes, I imagine those labels are veritable treasure troves of reliable medical information. Care to take a trip forward, to 1959? I've got Bevan's Own Make Candy Label down pat -

  27. Your Shelburne Museum sounds a bit like The Henry Ford Museum.

    Yeah, that "baby" picture was a bit freaky. Thought it looked more like a munchkin from The Wizard of Oz.

  28. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Really fantastic post! I loved it because I just bought an old bottle of Doctor True's Elixir from an antique shop, and I'm glad to know that it has such a rich and valuable history in the lives of America's children. Just think how it must have shaped the famous people we come to adore and heroize- FDR, Woodrow Wilson, Charlie Chaplain, Fitzgerald, and Danny Devito. =3

  29. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Good work..
    The baby looks so funny.
    Are you sure its the baby and not an adults pic who looks like a kiddo....:-)