Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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December 16, 2005
equestriennes, educated dogs and geese, Tyrolean warblers and battle-ax jugglers

If you read Douglas Gilbert's American Vaudeville: Its Life and Times (first published in 1940), you might learn some of the following words, as I did (definitions and sample sentences provided):

cantrip: a magic spell, a mischievous trick.
"It was astonishing how old friends, through fortune's cantrip and the vicissitudes of booking, continually missed each other."

napthaed: from "naptha": a colorless flammable liquid obtained from crude petroleum and used as a solvent and cleaning fluid and as a raw material for gasoline.
"White spats were kept clean and comic pants were aired, napthaed, and kept pressed, or new ones purchased."

larrikin: "A person given to comical or outlandish behavior."
"It is possible their novelty grew threadbare, but the larrikin audiences of the seventies and eighties were far from fussy."

minnesinging: from "minnesinger": One of the German lyric poets and singers in the troubador tradition who flourished from the 12th to the 14th centuries.
"As topical as they were belligerent, they offer one of the most delightful footnotes in the minnesinging annals of America."

ruction: riotous disturbance.
"We're two Irish Knights of Labor,
And we're members of the order called the Sons of Toil,
When we're on strike then the people watch the ruction,
For it's then we give them a sample of our style."

trencherman: a heavy eater, hanger-on.
"Thatcher, a great spender, tosspot, and trencherman, set up a champagne party for the troupe in celebration of their opening."

arnica: a tincture of dried flower heads used for sprains and bruises.
"After this they retired to their dressing rooms to pull splinters out of each other's backsides and apply arnica and plaster so as to be in shape for the next show."

nip-up: An acrobatic spring from a supine to an upright position.
"Bray, a suave, handsome chap, was an excellent 'front'; when he entered a restaurant the waiters did nip-ups to give him a ringside table."

mazuma: slang. Money, cash. [Yiddish: mazumen]
"Remember all that mazuma you touched me for in the last year? Well, I'm gonna forget about it."

meerschaum: a tough, compact usually white mineral of hydrous magnesium silicate found in the Mediterranean area and usd in fashioning tobacco pipes and as a building stone.
"Wynn wore peg-top trousers and a funny Panama hat; entered with a meerschaum pipe in his mouth and bulldog on leash."

byplay: secondary action or speech taking place while the main action proceeds, esp. on a theater stage.
"It may sound awful; but their eye work, facial expressions, and pantomimic byplay drew convulsive laughs."

olio: vaudeville or musical entertainment presented between acts of a burlesque or minstrel show; a mixture or medley.
"He got his early training in minstrels where he progressed from first-part singer to inside end and single speciality in the olio."

acidulous: sour in feeling or manner; biting; caustic.
"His next move was to the (New York) Graphic, a fierce tab, now happily dead, where he began his present vivid, picturesque, and acidulous style."

legmania: "a precise form of eccentric dancing emphasizing high kicking."

risley act: "Basically this act involves one acrobat, lying on his back, foot juggling another person."