LIKE WISE

Noble goal like chasing rainbow — beautiful while it lasts.

If the above quote sounds familiar, you have the memory of an elephant. It — the quote, not you or the elephant — appeared in my previous post as a Charlie Chanism which I made up after a trip to the latest local library book sale where my returns are becoming re-nowned and their books are becoming re-owned….and one of my new buys was titled CHARLIE CHAN — The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History, by Yunte Huang.

If you’re an old movie buff like me, you’ve probably seen a number of 1930s-40s Charlie Chan films (based on the 1920-3os novels by Earl Derr Biggers) in which Charlie chanted such gems of wisdom as these:

Hasty deduction, like ancient egg, look good from outside.
Mind, like parachute, only function when open.
Trouble, like first love, teach many lessons.
Facts like photographic film — must be exposed before developing.
Advice after mistake like medicine after funeral.

You will find these, and many more, Chanisms in Appendix I of the book. But that’s just a bonus — the real story of this book is “The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective”…. a story I can’t tell you because either I would have to kill you (leaving no clues), or it would spoil the story and leave you without a motive to buy the book. But I will tell you that the fictional Honolulu detective Charlie Chan was based on real-life Honolulu detective Chang Apana, who was a character in his own right and whose career included jobs ranging from gardener to gumshoe. So get the book, plant yourself in your favorite chair, and enjoy the read.

Speaking of flowery characters, Earl Derr Biggers was no shrinking violet. Before turning novelist, Biggers (a Harvard grad)) was an outspoken newspaper columnist and drama critic. In one of his columns, he wrote of “a citizen of Mingo, Okla., [who] whipped out his trusty six-shooter the other day and shot the mustache off another citizen. We sincerely hope that the gentleman who lost the mustache appreciated the fact that he had a mighty close shave.” Shades of such baldfaced punsters as Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and mistermuse! (The latter includes himself in such company on the grounds that the dead can’t object.)

But enough about me. Here’s Charlie!

 

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CERF’S UP

In his comment to 20/20 BEHINDSIGHT (my May 20 post which contained a look back at TWENTY QUESTIONS), long-time blog buddy Don Frankel mentioned WHAT’S MY LINE? (another old TV game show). It so happens that one of the regulars on that show, humor writer and publisher (co-founder of RANDOM HOUSE) Bennett Cerf had chosen the 25th of May (1898) to be born; thus, today I honor his birthday by posting a selection of favorite Cerf puns and quotes (and high time I returned the favor, considering that lo, some twenty-plus years ago, RANDOM HOUSE published several of my poems in THE RANDOM HOUSE TREASURY OF LIGHT VERSE).

But first, let’s take a look back at one of the WHAT’S MY LINE? programs from the same year as the TWENTY QUESTIONS clip shown in my previous post:

There is little question, I think you’ll agree, that WHAT’S MY LINE? was a step up in class compared to TWENTY QUESTIONS…..so it’s time to hit the Cerf (as beach bums refer to the swells) and ride the wave….to wit:

Gross ignorance is 144 times worse than ordinary ignorance.

The confused young man couldn’t decide whether to marry Kathryn or Edith. Try as he might, he just could not make up his mind. Unwilling to give up either, he strung them along far too long. This indecision continued until both women tired of the situation and left him for good. Moral of the story: You can’t have your Kate and Edith too.

Then there was the young female comic who was promised good roles in a hit TV show. All she had to do was divide her favors between the star and the producer. But it was just a sham; she never got any air time at all. You might even say she was….shared skit less.

There once was a student named Bessor
Whose knowledge grew lesser and lesser.
It at last grew so small
He knew nothing at all
And today he’s a college professor.

The Detroit String Quartet played Brahms last night. Brahms lost.

I shouldn’t be surprised  — it was four against one.

And on that note, I bid thee a fond fare well.

 

 

 

GANGSTER WRAP

I trust that you remember my March 30 post titled HOLLYWOOD, DEAD LEFT ON VINE. If not, maybe you could use a nudge from Police Lt. Frank Drebin to refresh your memory:

Maybe now you remember: my March 30 opus delicti distinguished between film noir (theme of that post) and gangster movies (this post’s theme), while allowing for crossover in films like WHITE HEAT (classified as film noir in one book, and gangster film in another). To anyone not ‘into’ such films, these thorny details may strike one as nothing more than a distinction without a difference….but I’ll assume you aren’t “anyone,” because I’ve got a job to pull — I mean, a post to write — and the subject ain’t roses.

That’s odd. I could have sworn the subject was not roses.

Wait a shrouded minute! Now I remember — the subject was supposed to be gangster movies. My bad. Sorry for the hold up.

In the introduction to his book CLASSIC GANGSTER FILMS, by (appropriately enough) Robert Bookbinder, he writes: “The gangster film has always been one of the staples of the American cinema. Though there were several motion pictures with a gangster theme produced as far back as the silent era, the genre did not really begin to flourish until the thirties, when it reigned throughout the decade as one of the public’s favorite kinds of “escapist” entertainment. Depression-era audiences responded strongly to all the action, violence and romance, and were more than willing to get caught up in the on-screen exploits of Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. In a sense, the movie gangster, with his rebellious breaking of society’s rules and regulations, and his aggressive drive to “get somewhere” regardless of consequences, became something of a hero to filmgoers of the period.”

It is worth noting that, although the gangster film by no means passed completely out of the picture, its most productive period (1930 to 1941-42) led to the era of classic film noir (1941-59)….which began with THE (never-surpassed) MALTESE FALCON. The above three stars were equally without rival in both genres.

Bookbinder’s book binds together the above transition, providing a fascinating look back at 45 gangster films (several overlapping into film noir), complete with credits, cast, commentary, photos and synopsis for each film, ranging from LITTLE CAESAR in 1930 to BONNIE AND CLYDE in 1967 and THE BROTHERHOOD in 1969. Of the latter, Bookbinder states: “It was not especially successful, and it has been almost completely overshadowed in film history by the more expensive and elaborate Godfather films of the early seventies. The picture deserves a better fate….what a truly entertaining gem it is.”

Now, I will admit that, in general, I am not as big a fan of gangster films as I am of film noir. I have an affinity for the more tangled and convoluted plots (in most cases) of the latter, compared to the more macho and less sophisticated gangster films….but then, “sophisticated” is not a term one normally associates with gangsters — so, by Sam, let’s call a spade a Spade. It’s not a bum rap.

But there is one bailiwick in which gangster films win hands down — I mean, hands up! (ha ha) — and that is in gangster film spoofs such as the all-time classic, SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959), which lost out to (would you believe?) BEN-HUR in practically every Academy Award category for that year. Oh, well — nobody’s perfect. 😦

And that’s a wrap.

 

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME AGAIN

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. –Faith Baldwin

A year ago today, I published a post titled IT’S ABOUT TIME which, as it happens, was about time. That post featured songs about time, such as TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE (which is all about time playing the role of an impatient gadabout). For this year’s edition, with Daylight Saving Time coming up this upcoming weekend, I thought I’d save myself time by posting quotes, like the Baldwin above, that carry on the time theme (which almost rhymes with crime scene, which is a site where it is suspected a pun has been committed in bad Faith). So, without further ado, it’s time to get down to cases:

Things money can’t buy: Time. Inner peace. Character. Manners. Respect. Morals. Trust. Patience. Class. Dignity. –Roy T. Bennett [almost identical with ‘Things on Trump’s Top Ten Never To Do list’]

I have no faith in human perfectibility. Man is now only more active – not more wise – than he was 6,000 years ago. –Edgar Allan Poe [man “more active” in Poe’s time? Of course he was — humans had yet to become Couch Po(e)tatoes]

Throughout history man’s inventions have been timesavers — then came television [100 years post-Poe]. –Evan Esar

I’m afraid of time…I mean I’m afraid of not having enough time — time to understand people, how they really are, or to be understood myself. I’m afraid of the quick judgments or mistakes everybody makes. You can’t fix them without time. –Ann Brashares

It is looking at things for a long time that ripens you and gives you a deeper meaning. –Vincent Van Gough

I am almost a hundred years old; waiting for the end, and thinking about the beginning. There are things I need to tell you, but would you listen if I told you how quickly time passes? –Meg Rosoff

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. –William Faulkner

It takes a lifetime to die and no time at all. –Charles Bukowski

And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit. –Martin Amis

Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead. –Hans Christian Andersen

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time. –Jorge Luis Borges

Over the silent sands of time they go/lovers come/lovers go/and all that there is to know/lovers know/only lovers know. –“Sands Of Time” lyrics, from 1955 film KISMET

 

 

CONFUCIUS, PRO AND CON

Yesterday, Sept. 29, was CONFUCIUS DAY. Confucius say: Mistermuse perfect pundit to write Sept. 30 CONFUCIUS DAY post because he always a day late and a yuan* short. Mistermuse say: I not a day late, Confucius Day a day too soon — besides, everyone know yuan is actually Spanish/Latino name (as in Don Juan), not Chinese. Latinos say: Whatever. Just don’t Confuci-us with the Japanese, who have the yen. Anyway, before yuan thing lead to another, what counts is the way we Americans say it: “A day late and a dollar short.”  USA! USA! USA!

*Chinese currency

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let us get down to the business at hand, which happens to be a selection of profound proverbs by Confucius, followed by an equal proportion of proverbial conclusions by Contrarius (which happens to be the pun name of Anonymous).

Choose a job that you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.
He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make words good.
Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.

Man who stand on toilet may be high on pot.
Wife who put husband in doghouse soon find him in cat house.
Passionate kiss like spider web: leads to undoing of fly.
People who eat too many prunes get good run for money.
War does not determine who is right, war determine who is left.
Man who jump off cliff jump to conclusion.

THE END (and not a moment too soon)

 

 

 

SAY WHAT AGAIN?

The use of wordplay in the titles of my last two posts (ROMANCE WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY and ALL’S FARE IN LOVE AND FOUR) doesn’t cancel the reservations I expressed in my 6/1/15 post (SAY WHAT?); i.e., it’s chancy to ‘pun’ old sayings because most people today don’t know them….and if they don’t know the sayings, they won’t get the wordplay.

Now, granted that some party-poopers may have known the actual sayings (ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY and ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR) behind those titles, but pooh-poohed the wordplay as hardly worth the strain my brain went through to get the end result. Be that as it may, my purpose here is to be ‘test assured’ that my readers are more familiar with once-familiar old sayings than “most people” in the first place — so, if you’re game, here’s a list of 4 old sayings, 4 song titles, and 4 made-up idioms. If you can pick — out of the dozen — 3 of the 4 old sayings, consider yourself a genius. If you get all four right, I will consider you a genius.

1.  FAINT HEART NE’ER WON FAIR LADY

2.  A PRETTY GIRL IS LIKE A MELODY

3.  DISCRETION IS THE BETTER PART OF VALOR

4.  ANY PLACE I HANG MY HAT IS HOME

5.  GOOD FECES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS

6.  FISH AND VISITORS STINK AFTER THREE DAYS

7.  ANY TIME’S THE TIME TO FALL IN LOVE

8.  DON’T CHANGE CORPSES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREAM

9.  DON’T THROW COLD WATER ON THE FLAME OF LOVE

10. GO TO BED WITH THE CHICKENS, WAKE UP WITH THE ROOSTERS

11. WHILE THE CAT’S AWAY, THE MICE WILL PRAY*

12. GENIUS IS ONE PERCENT INSPIRATION AND 99 PERCENT PERSPIRATION

*Apparently they’re church mice.

So, how do you think you did? If you can’t stand the suspense, hold on to your pants, because I will keep you in suspenders no longer — the old sayings are #1, #3, #6 and #12. Speaking of #12, if you weren’t right at least 3 times of 4, obviously you don’t perspire enough to be a genius.

As for the other two categories, I made up #5 (“feces” for “fences”), #8 (“corpses” replaces “horses”), #10 and #11 (“pray” is a play on “play”), and the song titles are #2, #4, #7 and #9. What’s that you say — #9 sounds like something I made up, not a song? Well, I hate to throw cold water on your hot tamales, but the proof is in the pudding:

In  closing, take pride, ye geniuses who passed the test and could dig the rest; let the record show, The wordplay’s the thing.

 

 

 

OH, WHAT A RELIEF IT IS

Life is just a dirty four-letter word: w-o-r-k.  –J. P. McEvoy, writer/comic strip creator

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you have a job that stinks because your caseload is overwhelming (like maybe social work, child welfare or criminal court), you can probably relate to this:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/01/09/3737789/ohio-judge-poem-mocks-inmate/

If I’m any judge, that’s a Judge (and fellow Ohioan) who knows how to do creative “sentencing” — a Cain who is able, as Judge Cain himself might pun. As a poet, I see poetry as a way to express myself creatively, but the above case demonstrates that poetry is also good for getting a load off one’s mind. Take those times I’m on the throne, dumping a commodious b. m. — I’d liken it to killing two turds with one stone, because at times, it may be the only place I find peace and quiet to compose the poems I post….such as this com-post:

THE REAL POOP BEHIND THE FLOOD

Noah did build a mighty ark;
He worked by day and he worked by dark.

From lands afar he gathered pairs
Of kangaroos and polar bears,

Of groundhogs and water buffalo,
And every creature, bound to go

With him o’er deserts, swamps and seas,
Across the Alps and Pyrenees,

Taking those beasties from where they were at,
Straight to his ark for a cruise to Mount Ararat,

Got them on board, two of each species,
Ere long to amass a mess of feces,

And though the elephants brought their trunks,
Two hoses could but horse with a stench like skunks.

Fortunately, as much as decks stinked,
Dinosaurs and mastodons had become extinct.

But how do we know Noah knew their gender?
The pairs multiplied like rabbits by THE ENDer….