IF: whimsical

whimsicle fuckery

In 2009, April Winchell, the versatile and multi-talented actress, launched the website Regretsy.com. It was a raucous and bitingly satirical take on the popular etsy.com website, a so-called marketplace for all things handmade. But, April (under the guise of “Helen Killer”) regularly scanned the many listings on etsy in search of items that were weird, unusual, frightening and just downright strange. She would then publicly call out those items and sellers offering items that were obviously not handmade. Just four days after its initial launch, Regretsy racked up an astounding 90 million hits. Followers (and subsequent commenters) were relentless in their sarcasm, critiques and out-and-out insults of the items on display. Soon, the Regretsy website spawned its own subset of features including anything with gears glued to it being reprimanded as “Not Remotely Steampunk,” outlandish variations surrounding a single octopus brooch and numerous plays on blatant and idiotic misspellings — usually labeled by the Regretsy faithful with a resounding “derp!” One of Regretsy’s favorites was the overuse of the word “whimsicle.” It appeared in countless listings by sellers who refused to take advantage of “spellcheck” when posting their items. If I recall, April and her minions never let a single occurrence of “whimsicle” pass without a proper, berating finger-point!

ericandaprilwinchell042810After almost a year, publishing giant Random House signed April up to publish a book based on the successful Regretsy website. A book tour followed and the California-dwelling April made her way eastward for a book-signing/charity auction in New York City in April 2010. She hosted a hilarious evening at a Manhattan bookstore, where she mingled with fans and sold a variety of items that were publicly disgraced on Regretsy. Mrs. P and I were in attendance and we purchased this beautiful “Whimsicle” pillow — and yes! — it is handmade! My son proudly displays our auction win, as April herself offers up a batch of fetus cookies that were baked by a Regretsy fan.

April closed up shop on Regretsy in early 2013, to concentrate on her vocation of choice — voice acting. April, the daughter of actor-ventriloquist Paul Winchell (a prolific voice actor in his own right), has been doing voices for films and television since the 1970s. She is best known for her work in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and TV’s Goof Troop, as well as nearly every appearance of Clarabelle Cow since taking over the role from the legendary Elvia Allman. More recently, April provided the voice of “Sylvia,” the trusty, yet reckless, horse on the delightful Disney Channel series Wander Over Yonder.

April has all but disappeared from all outlets of social media. Obviously, her voice work is keeping her very busy (and rightly so)! Speaking on behalf of her fans and the entire internet: “We miss you, April. Without you, our lives are far less whimsicle.”

IF: adventure


My family went on an adventure to Walt Disney World last week. On the day we chose to visit EPCOT, we queued up for Universe of Energy, a fun and educational presentation featuring Ellen DeGeneres, Alex Trebek, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Nye the Science Guy and a cast of assorted dinosaurs. Guests are treated to an integrated combination of film and Audio-Animatronic figures delivering a message of… oh, I don’t know… something about energy. To be honest, I have a tendency to doze off somewhere in the middle of the 45-minute presentation.

When we arrived at the entrance of the massive building that houses the show, a show was already in progress. The attraction can accommodate 1500 guests at one time, with three shows running simultaneously, so it is very likely that all those waiting outside will get in to see the next show, even at the park’s busiest times. So, we took a seat on a low wall that lined a manicured arrangement of colorful flowers and shrubbery, all beautifully landscaped in the perfect Disney tradition. We were soon joined by other guests who scattered themselves about the large waiting area outside the tinted entrance doors. A mother walked up with a small boy of about five years-old. He was a typical kid, so we really didn’t take notice until…

If you have visited any Disney theme park, you know that — within minutes — you become accustomed to waiting in line. Disney, like most similar entertainment parks, has a very elaborate but easy-to-follow system of waiting in line. Most rides are equipped with a network of rails and chains and poles and ropes to create a path that leads guests to the boarding area in an efficient and orderly fashion. After a while, queuing up and waiting in line becomes second nature. Wanna go on a ride? Get in line. Soon, you don’t even think about it, you just do it.

Well, this little boy had quickly grasped the concept of waiting in line and he was not going to stray from what he was taught by the good folks at Disney. The entrance to Universe of Energy was mildly occluded by a thin rope stretched between to shiny metal poles. The little boy surveyed the area — the rope, the closed doors, the other guests scattered casually about — and frowned. He turned to his mother.

“Where does the line start?,” he asked.

His mother smiled and explained that the building is so big that all of these people will get in when the doors open.

He frowned again and furrowed his tiny eyebrows. “But where is the line? Where does it start?,” he demanded. His tone grew agitated, his words clipped. His mother, again, offered her explanation in a calm manner. “Honey, there is nothing to worry about. We will all get in. All of these people will get in.”

The kid wasn’t buying it. He grit his teeth and seethed, “But, where does the line start?” His voice lowered almost to a growl. His small neck tensed and his hands curled into fists.

His mother tried once more to pacify the boy, but he wanted no parts for her pathetic reasoning. “Dear, we will all —”


His exasperated mother attempted to repeat her unconvincing claims of admission to the attraction, but the boy would not hear it. He was furious. He flung himself to the ground and kicked his feet. “WHERE IS THE LINE? WHERE IS THE LINE? TELL ME WHERE THE LINE STARTS!” His face was flushed and he looked like he was on the verge of frustrated tears.

The doors finally opened and the gathering crowd filed in. Once inside the building, everyone entered a large, cavernous room lined on one side with five huge movie screens placed high on the wall. Some guests took seats at the rear of the room on a long, futuristic-looking bench. Others stood on the dark red carpet, while others just planted themselves cross-legged right on the floor.

Now, the little boy saw that his mother had told the truth and there was, indeed, no line. He scanned this large room, turned to his mother and asked, “Now where does the line start in HERE?

For another adventure from this trip, click here.

IF: star

Gonna shout it every night/Gonna shout it every day

While appearing in a high school production, young Thalia Dickerson was spotted by a talent scout from Warner Brothers Studios. She was signed to a contract and made her debut with the stage name “Gloria Dickson” in 1937’s They Won’t Forget, a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan. The film was also the debut of another young actress named Lana Turner. The film was a hit and studio head Jack Warner proclaimed Gloria as his new “Star on the Rise.”

On her first day at Warner’s, Gloria met make-up man Perc Westmore. Perc introduced Gloria to what would become one of her favorite pastimes — drinking. Soon, Gloria married Perc and he suggested (or insisted) that Gloria get a nose job. Under her husband’s (and alcohol’s) influence, she became unreliable on film sets and her career began to suffer. Although he made many career demands, Perc was also a womanizer and the marriage was over in three years.

Gloria was eventually relegated to B-movies, despite one-time roles alongside John Garfield and Claude Rains. She landed a part in Barbara Stanwyck’s Lady of Burlesque, a murder-mystery penned by stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, hoping it would jumpstart her slumping career. It didn’t, and acting jobs came fewer and far between.

After another brief marriage to her I Want a Divorce director Ralph Murphy (another adulterer), Gloria married former boxer (and Jean Harlow bodyguard) Bill Fitzgerald. The couple moved into the former Hollywood residence of Stanley Toler (best remembered as the silver screen’s Charlie Chan). The house was an odd structure, with small, second-floor windows set high on the walls.

On April 10, 1945, Gloria was dozing in the living room and decided to head upstairs for an afternoon nap. Around 2 PM, a neighbor detected the smell of burning leaves. A few hours later, the smell persisted and other neighbors spotted flames shooting from the roof of Gloria’s house. Five fire departments were summoned at the home. Gloria’s husband Bill arrived home, screaming, “My baby’s in there! I have to save my baby!” Fire official prevented him from entering the burning building. Later, Gloria’s body was discovered, face down, in a second floor bathroom. An examination revealed that her lungs had been seared and she succumbed to smoke inhalation, as well as suffering first and second-degree burns. He pet dog’s body was found next to her. The fire was caused by a smoldering cigarette that Gloria had left on a chair in the living room. It was further surmised that she was unable to access the small, awkwardly placed, second floor windows in an attempt to climb out to safety. Gloria was 27 years old. Her widower had her grave marker inscribed “My Baby.”

Five years later, Bill Fitzgerald remarried. He was arrested within a month of his marriage for passing bad checks on his new bride’s bank account. The last check was written to a hotel that was a known front for prostitution. He was sentenced to five years in prison, during which he died, at 47, of complications of venereal disease. His unclaimed body was buried in the communal prison cemetery.