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!

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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.

 

 

 

JAZZ DAYS IN THE JAZZ AGE

The 1920s were an era of great contradictions. After winning WWI, the United States seemed to be (on the surface) a more liberated country than previously, finally shaking off the restrictions of the Victorian era. Dresses became shorter, many more women entered the workforce, dancing became more exciting and sensuous, some movies actually hinted strongly at sex, the economy was prosperous, and jazz seemed to be everywhere as the country experienced something like a decade-long party [known as The Jazz Age and The Roaring 20s].
But a closer look reveals Republicans ruled the White House, liquor was illegal (even if gangsters and bootleggers made it widely available), the Ku Klux Klan was at the height of its popularity (with lynchings of blacks commonplace), racism was institutionalized, big business had few restrictions, poverty was widespread, and there was no safety net. It was a great era to be rich and white, but the poor and blacks were barely tolerated by average middle-class citizens. –Scott Yanow, author of CLASSIC JAZZ*

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The above puts Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 nonstop transatlantic flight (see my last post) in broader historical context. ‘Fellow’ aviator Elinor Smith Sullivan later said, “It’s hard to describe the impact Lindbergh had on people. The twenties was such an innocent time.” This helps explain why songs like LINDBERGH, EAGLE OF THE USA and LUCKY LINDY were written by wantwits with words which would make wittier writers wince.

Thus, the wittiest composer/lyricist this side of the Atlantic, Cole Porter, put the Jazz Age in earthier terms:

In other words….

Our flight of fancy, like Lindbergh’s, ends in gay Paree with a song (recorded in 1930) from Porter’s 1929 musical FIFTY MILLION FRENCHMEN:

*Kindle edition available online for as low as $17.99 (highly recommended for classic jazz lovers)

 

 

 

MAY IS OLDER AMERICANS MONTH (and don’t you forget it!)

May is OLDER AMERICANS MONTH. I’m pretty sure I qualify as an older American because, as George Washington told me, “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves”….or maybe I’m thinkin’ of Lincoln (incidental details, like who said what, can get a bit hazy at my age). No matter — either way, it proves I’ve been around long enough to establish my bona feces.

As long as I’m quoting bigwigs I have known or could have known (as the case may be), no doubt you will be interested in other memorable quotes that I remember, most of which admittedly weren’t said to me directly, but which I either overheard, or were whiskered to me in confidence by the quotees under their goatees (or beards, as the face may be):

Old age is no place for sissies. –Bette Davis (whose facial hair at the time was confined to a mustache, as I recall)

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. –Truman Capote

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened. –Jennifer Yane

If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. — variously attributed to  Eubie Blake, Adolph Zukor and Mae West, among others

There is no cure for the common birthday. —John Glenn

You’re only as old as the girl that you feel. –Groucho Marx

Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. –Chili Davis

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician. –Anonymous

Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. –Anonymous

So there you have the story of my anonymous existence: just when I’m on a roll, I run flush out of time. C’est la vie. Take it on out, Pops (Louis) and Schnoz (Jimmy):

 

 

 

 

 

THE BARD ON THE DONALD

My April 22 post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP) was so well received that I’ve decided to give that theme (of holding up a mirror to The Tempest of Trumpian self-glorification) another go….this time, with the reflections of an even greater giant of literature: the Bard of Avon taking aim at the target of Twain and giving us his measure of the Tweeter of Twaddle. So, in case you haven’t given The Bard a second thought of late: straight from TAMING OF THE SHREW (filmed as KISS ME KATE), what say you….

and we’ll all know how….the Bard’s words speak to the Iago of Mar-a-Lago:

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

 

 

 

DO YOU KNOW YOU?

I think self-knowledge is the rarest trait in a human being. –Elizabeth Edwards

Do you know you? Hard though it be to imagine, that is the one question I wish I could force Donald Trump to answer from deep within, even though I doubt he’s capable of giving it a second thought (much less, capable of understanding why anyone would want to). Seriously. Self-knowledge may well be “the rarest trait in a human being,” but I think most people his age might at least pay it lip service, even if it’s never been ‘their thing.’

Well, far be it from me to disturb The Donald’s absence of self-knowledge, so I’ll settle for posing some quotes on the subject to Trump’s better angels, who haven’t been seen since they were fired….but who, being better angels, haven’t given up hope of getting to him:

It is a sad fate for a man to die well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself. –Francis Bacon

Some people really ought to know themselves; they never think about anything else. –Evan Esar

It’s not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient. –Josh Billings

I was a typical specimen: the mental contortionist, able to rise to almost every challenge placed before him, except the challenge of real self-knowledge. –Walter Kirn

What are you afraid of? Your fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if you explore them. –Marilyn Ferguson

I’m afraid I’ve run out of good quotes. I’d explore for more, but a guy can only take so much self-knowledge before falling asleep.