Monday, May 26, 2008

Those Second Act Scotts

Originally I thought this was a strange wisecrack about the sexual habits of the Scottish people, but it's really about people who come into the theatre late. The first paragraph of the advertisement contains a string of references that I will explain below.
Just when the body is discovered or the third one from the left looks your way, the Scotts arrive. Their seats are never Robinson Crusoes (two in the aisle, if the old lady from Dubuque should inquire.) Men, otherwise kindly, grow apoplectic and stout ladies make "tut-tut" sounds. But no one knows the reasons for the tardiness of the Scotts. We do.
In true theatrical form I'll leave the explanation for this baffling mystery until the end.

* "Just when the body is discovered..." Obviously a reference to the inevitable climax of the first act of a mystery play: after the scene has been set and the characters introduced, one of the characters is found dead. Mystery plays were extremely popular in 1927, though in 1928 they seemed to be going on the wane.

* "...or the third one from the left looks your way..." A reference to those who tried to catch the eyes of chorus girls, a line of whom appeared in every musical show. Stories and articles from the '20s often make references to one particular girl who "stood out" from the line as prettier, more intelligent, more talented, or more tragic than the rest. She's the one whose eye you tried to catch...just before those darned Second Act Scotts barged in.

* "Their seats are never Robinson Crusoes..." I've never heard this one, but it's explained in the text. I imagine the aisle seats were called "Robinson Crusoes" because they were sort of distant and stranded from the rest, but I can think of lots of other equally bad explanations if you care to hear them.

* "...the old lady of Dubuque..." This was a running gag since the inception of The New Yorker. Their editorial policy was that the paper "wasn't written for the old lady of Dubuque," implying that their articles would be sophisticated. The OLOD got referenced a lot in the paper, particularly by advertisers trying to be clever.

SO WHY WERE THE SCOTTS LATE ALL THE TIME, ANYWAY? Because they were too busy eating really good home-cooked meals made of Guasti Sherry! This was bona fide alcohol, but so salted that only a homeless anchovy would dare drink it.

As a side note it's unusual to read an advertisement that basically says "these people are REALLY ANNOYING...because they use our product."


Anonymous said...

Dubuque is a city in the U.S. State of Iowa, located along the Mississippi River. Its population was estimated at 57,696 in 2006, making it the eighth-largest city in the state. It is the county seat of Dubuque County which has a population of 92,384.

The city lies at the junction of 3 states: Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, a region locally known as the Tri-State Area. It serves as the main commercial, industrial, educational, and cultural center for the area. Dubuque is the oldest city in Iowa, and played a key role in the early settlement of the state, and the Upper Midwest. For this reason, it is commonly called the "Key City." Geographically, it is part of the Driftless Area, a portion of North America that escaped all three phases of the Wisconsinian Glaciation.

Dubuque has a rich history and culture that gives it greater prominence than its size would suggest. It is one of the few large cities in Iowa with hills, and is home to a large tourist industry, driven by the city's unique architecture, and river location. Also, it is home to 5 institutions of higher education, making it a center for culture and learning.

While Dubuque has long been a center of manufacturing, the economy has recently witnessed rapid growth and diversification in other areas. In 2005, it led the state and the Midwest in job growth, ranking as the 22nd fastest-growing economy nationally. Today, alongside industry, the city has large health care, education, tourism, publishing, and financial service sectors.

For all of the positive changes occurring, the city has recently received significant national recognition on a variety of fronts. In 2006, Money Magazine named Dubuque as having the shortest commute time of any city in the nation at only 11.8 minutes. In March 2007, the city was recognized as one of the "100 Best Communities for Young People" by the America's Promise Youth Foundation. In April 2007, the city was voted 15th in the "Best Small Places For Business and Careers" ranking by Forbes Magazine, climbing 60 spots from 2006. And finally, in June 2007, Dubuque won the All-America City Award, one of 10 cities nationally to do so.

Take THAT New Yorker!!

Adam Thornton said...

" is home to 5 institutions of higher education, making it a center for culture and learning."'s in IOWA.

Anonymous said...

The centre of a desert is still the centre of a desert, regardless of the relative merits(or lack thereof) possessed by said patch of sand.

As a Scott myself, I must emphatically state that I neither endorse nor make use of Guasti Sherry. And given their apparent attitude towards my kind, I feel that my stance is unlikely to change on this matter.

Adam Thornton said...

Good for you, Scott...stand up to their bigoted ways!

Anonymous said...

I was quite fond of Dubuque

Adam Thornton said...

I've heard that YOU were actually "The old lady of Dubuque."