Drooling on the Pillow

Monday, June 27, 2005

Paul Winchell, R.I.P. 

He died on Friday at aged 82.

It's probably just me, but I think anyone who is a ventriloquist is, by definition, interesting. Like accordionists and civil war recreationeers. Butterfly collectors. Or the guy you meet in the park who knows everything there is to know about the Yonkers sewer system. And he's lived his whole life in South Carolina.

Cranks. People who started off in life a little askew and, as they went through life, looked back at the widening gap between themselves and normal, and shrugged. They're okay with that.

You don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time with them, mind you. Monomaniacs can cover you like a viscous film once they sense your interest. It's the fact of them that's interesting, no so much their dinner conversation.

Of course, Paul Winchell was anything but a monomaniac. He was, in fact, the exact opposite; a guy whose interests were pretty much a salad of items taken from the far corners of life. But he was a crank so he wasn't concerned with connecting the dots in his life. If you're interested in getting ahead, you're going to follow A with B and then spend your time looking for C. You may never find out you're a world class Scrabble player or that the key to happiness in your life is glass blowing.

I'm not advocating this, mind you. You've got to be born that way or your life will be a constant yard sale. I'm just saying it's interesting and most of us could probably use a little more of the crank in our lives.

Winchell, besides being a great ventriloquist and voice over guy (the voice of Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh), was an inventor. He invented and patented an artificial heart that was used by Dr. Robert Jarvik to develop the first viable model. He also held patents for an invisible garter belt and a flameless cigarette lighter.

UPDATE: I just noticed that John Fiedler, the voice of Winnie-the-Pooh's Piglet died on Saturday. It was a bad weekend for Christopher Robin.
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