Saturday, December 11, 2010

Iceland and the Steam Trombone*

*this sounds like the title for the best children's book in the world.

I have a new best friend, and it is Iceland! If you go to Iceland Wants to be your Friend, Iceland introduces itself and you can sign up and receive emails from Iceland! Iceland is a great friend - unpretentious, charming and very polite. I recommend that you befriend Iceland, it is a heart-warming experience.

Unlike the steam trombone. (SEGUE!*)

In the New York Times archive, and thank you Wondermark for bringing this to my attention, there is a story from 1890 about a man who invented a steam trombone. "The very notion of a steam trombone makes humanity shudder," says the Times. How true.

Mr. Arthur Frothingham (I am not making his name up), who the Times describes as "one of the most determined and relentless misanthropes of whom history bears record," constructed a huge steam trombone as a gimmick to entice customers into his Arcade. Why he thought this would work I'm not sure, but the trombone could be heard for 5 miles, and he played it every day at 6am, noon, 1pm and 6pm.


There was a hotel nearby, and "after the steam trombone had been heard a few times, the guests began to complain," as you would, "but Mr. Frothingham refused to forgo the pleasure of liberating his musical steam."

Things came to a head when the trombone began to "in a weird, wild, and fearfully fantastic way" play 'Home Sweet Home, ' and the hotelier took Mr Frothingham to court "for the purpose of consigning [the trombone] to perpetual silence."

Which is kind of fair enough. I don't know what happened because the judge took it under advisement and the articles stop, but based on the below I think it is safe to say that the trombone bellowed no more.

"In the hands of an artist and in combination with other instruments it may be borne, but unmitigated and alone even the normal trombone is a thing of dread [...] but a steam trombone, a steam trombone of two hundred horse power, shows a terrible malignity, and the embodiment of such cynicism in actual brass, and the pouring through it of volumes of sonorous steam, shows what the statute defining murder describes as a depraved mind regardless of human life."

"Oh no," said Iceland, "I think we're lost!" But just as the Steam Trombone started to cry, the fog lifted, and they realised they had been at home all along! YAAAAAY

*Segues are exciting. Also exciting (SEGUE! I did it again!) is buying Christmas presents, I wrote a post about it, it's over here.


Christina said...

I am with the hotelier, especially since Mr Frothatthemouth was playing his trombone at 6am. That is ungodly early to be awake, never mind inflicting pain on the earholes of your neighbours.

I think you need to write that kid's book :D

(Yeah, I know, it's been an age since I've commented. I'm just a very, very lazy blog reader).

slommler said...

Yes! Too early for any kind of noise!!
And a steam powered trombone?? My question is...why??? Ha!!

chris.dadness said...

"but Mr. Frothingham refused to forgo the pleasure of liberating his musical steam." - definitely a euphemism for masturbation.