SHORT AND (NOT SO) SWEET

Lately I’ve been (and remain) a bit under the weather, so rather than strain my brain trying to write something original, this post will quote from three book reviews which have something pertinent to say about the likes of our favorite President, either directly or by extension (book titles in caps):

KILL IT TO SAVE IT by Corey Dolgon

“Dolgon’s astute look at the conservative turn in US politics … offers a fascinating look at the phenomenon that made Donald J. Trump the preferred choice of many voters. The long-term fallout of this turn has many of us thinking far less critically than we should be–exactly as intended–and how and why we’ve learned to tolerate the intolerable.” –Eleanor J. Bader (reviewer)

UNDER THE COVER OF CHAOS by Lawrence Grossberg

“In damning detail, Grossberg here lays bare the deep roots of Trumpism. Rather than a break from some imagined pure, nuanced conservatism, Grossberg shows Trump’s manic nonsense is actually a continuation, the result of a long struggle between the new right and the reactionary right. Everyone should read this book if they want to understand the rise of authoritarianism in the United States.” –Henry Giroux (reviewer)

THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE FREE by Milton Mayer

An account of the rise of fascism in Germany from 1933-45. As such, “A timely reminder of how otherwise unremarkable and in many ways reasonable people can be seduced by demagogues and populists.” –Richard J. Evans (reviewer)

Upon further review, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

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A QUOTER OF NINE

One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself. –Marcel Proust

The idea for this post was born of the mating of the above quote (which came from a book I’m reading about Marcel Proust) with a play on words from the title of this old song:

The next step was to come up with nine quotes based on the above premise. Almost by default, I chose quotes about quotes. I hope the result isn’t born stillborn — if so, de fault is yours (or mine, if you want to be petty about it). Let’s begin and see how it works out:

Those who never quote, in return are never quoted. –Isaac D’Israeli

Pretty things that are well said — it’s nice to have them in your head. –Robert Frost

I have made it a rule that whenever I say something stupid, I immediately attribute it to Dr. Johnson, Marcus Aurelius or Dorothy Parker. –George Mikes

Asked to describe his most recent play, a playwright (who Dorothy Parker felt had been copying her) said, “It’s hard to say — except that it’s a play against all isms.” She replied, “Except plagiarism.

I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking. –Dorothy L. Sayers

To be amused at what you read — that is the great spring of quotation. –Charles Edward Montague

While reading writers of great formulatory power — Henry James, Santayana, Proust — I find I can scarcely get through a page without having to stop to record some lapidary sentence. Reading Henry James, for example, I have muttered to myself, “C’mon, Henry, turn down the brilliance a notch, so I can get some reading done.” –Joseph Epstein

If you want to be quoted, say something you shouldn’t say. –Evan Esar

I really didn’t say everything I said. –Yogi Berra

So that makes me a quoter of nine, unless one counts the opening Marcel Proust quote, which doesn’t count as ten unless you’re keeping count, in which case, count it instead as a bonus which would only count if you don’t count Yogi, who said he didn’t say what he said if he didn’t say it (but don’t quote me on that).

 

 

A LITTLE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today;
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…
–Wm. Hughes Mearns

I was reminded of the above (from the 1899 poem ANTIGONISH) by this opening paragraph of a column by Susan Page in USA TODAY:

“At the [9/1/18] memorial service he had carefully planned, John McCain managed to deliver a final and defiant rebuke to the man who wasn’t there, whose name was never uttered.” In that spirit, I too will honor John McCain by not mentioning the name of the man who wasn’t there. We all (who follow the news) know the name of the man who wasn’t there, and we all know why he wasn’t there.

Susan Page goes on to quote the following words spoken so eloquently at the service by Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Arizona Senator:

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness, the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

The little man who wasn’t there once said that John McCain was no hero. The little man who wasn’t there isn’t fit to say ANYONE is no hero, because a narcissistic, bullying, amoral coward has no standing to judge the worth of anything, much less heroism.

“Oh, how I wish he’d go away”….but it will take more than wishes. It will take our votes. Nothing less than a resounding vote against political enablers of the President will convince Republicans that it’s in their self-interest to ‘flip.’ And make no mistake — to them, political self-interest (and living to fight another day) is everything.

 

KISS HER IN THE KISSER AND MAKE UP

My formula for living is quite simple. I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night. In between, I occupy myself as best I can. –Cary Grant

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August 25 is KISS AND MAKE UP DAY. In the Cary Grant spirit of occupying myself as best I can, I thought I’d present an assemblage of good old-fashioned “kiss and make up” goodies (the idea being, if you don’t love my premise, you can kiss my assortment). Let’s start with Cary’s take on make-up, which (as you can see) I’m not making up:

Well, apparently Cary never did make up with that gal, because here he is two years later, singing another love song to another gal:

It seems that Cary would rather play the field than kiss and make up. Let us therefore pick a dilly of a ditty less playboy-like in character:

So much for the guys. I give the last word to the gals (they usually have it anyway):

Kiss and make up — but too much makeup has ruined many a kiss. –Mae West

Kiss & make up. Maybe making out for a few minutes would help us figure things out. –Katie Anderson

In trying to get our own way, we should remember that kisses are sweeter than whine. –Ann Nonymous

WHEEL OF MISFORTUNE

When misfortune comes, take it like a man–blame it on your wife. –Evan Esar

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Many of us suffer an unanticipated misfortune at some point in our lives. It could be the missed fortune of being left out of the will of a rich cousin you loved like a brother (until the ungrateful s.o.b. left every cent he had to his actual brother)….or it could be distress under duress, like your mistress taking egress, leaving you in a mess, no less, with your wife. Or, if you are a wife, perhaps you got wind of, not only the mistress on the side, but the ‘steady at the ready’ and the ‘wench on the bench’ (otherwise known as having too many loins in the fire). Yes, friends, misfortune is an ill wind which blows no good…

Now, far be it from mistermuse to blame his misfortunes on his wife. As a matter of tact, if it weren’t for my wife, I don’t know what I would do (or is it, wouldn’t do?). Yes, friends, mistermuse has been a sappily married man for 49 years, 10 months, and 13 days now, and I can honestly say it doesn’t seem like a day over 49 years, 10 months, and 12 days.

That said, game on. Let’s see what other men have had to say on the subject:

Wives are people who feel that they don’t dance enough. –Groucho Marx

How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who treats her as if she were a perfectly natural being? –Oscar Wilde

If Presidents can’t do it to their wives, they do it to their countries. –Mel Brooks

No matter how happily married a woman may be, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes she were not. –H. L. Mencken

My advice to you is get married: if you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher. –Socrates

Some wives are like fishermen: they think the best ones got away. –Evan Esar

I’ve had bad luck with both my wives. The first one left me and the second one didn’t. –Patrick Murray

A man placed an ad in the classifieds: “Wife wanted.” Next day he received over a hundred replies: “You can have mine.” –Anonymous

NOTE: The last quote is absolutely NOT mine!

THE WAY WE WEREN’T

The trouble with turning memories into memoirs is that when one is finished, a sneaky feeling comes along: “Things never were that way, anyway.” –Jean Negulesco (1900-93), Academy Award-winning movie director

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I’ve just finished reading Jean Negulesco’s memoir (coincidentally, he died 25 years ago today) titled THINGS I DID AND THINGS I THINK I DID. The above quote is from that book–as is his reflection on having raised, with his wife, two adopted daughters from war-torn, post-WWII Germany:

And so it starts, and so it ends. And we see ourselves in them. There is no sense in telling them, “When I was your age….” We never were their age. 

“We never were their age.” And so it is with us. We’ve never been ‘inside’ them–even our own children. When all is said and done, we’re lucky if we know ourselves–now, then or in-between–which is not to say that, along the way, we were not open to wanting whatever knowledge romance promised….

They say “You can’t go home again”–even if your old haunts still exist, your past and its ghosts stay with you, not with where you were….not so? So, where do we go?

Now, I’m as nostalgic as the next old geezer, but as my past recedes further into the past, I look at old photos, see the images of faces and places I knew, and there’s no avoiding the sense that the road between THINGS I DID AND THINGS I WISH I DID leads to a place where the sun sets before we get there.

Sooner or later, it’s all over but the doubting. It’s the place where (to paraphrase a phrase) OLD GHOSTS NEVER DIE, they….just….fade….a w a y

Still….

LIAR, LIAR, RANTS ON FIRE

One of my readers, who is obviously a glutton for punishment, recently expressed disappointment that I haven’t posted more of my poems lately. At the risk of triggering that old axiom BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, I thank her for having inspired me to address the deficiency thusly:

DECEIT DON’T STAND

As the twig is bent,
so grows the tree.
As the die is cast,
so shall it be.

If these be true,
why is it wise:
The Donald gets a pass
when he tells those lies?

Of course, I should also thank the President, without whose daily rants my inspiration for this poem would doubtless lie dormant. And now for a word from the truly wise about lies:

Carlyle said, “A lie cannot live”; it shows he did not know how to tell them. –Mark Twain

A man comes to believe in the end the lies he tells about himself to himself. –George Bernard Shaw

I admire liars, but surely not liars so clumsy they cannot fool even themselves. –H. L. Mencken

Pretending that you believe a lie is also a lie. –Arthur Schnitzler

If at first you’re not believed, lie, lie again. –Evan Esar

Not sure why the video is black. Maybe because the lies it laments aren’t white ones. But the sound is clear, and the voice shines through the darkness.