HUSBAND APPRECIATION DAY

The third Saturday in April, which happens to be today, is HUSBAND APPRECIATION DAY. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be), I have but one wife to appreciate me. Not that I’m greedy, you understand, but I can’t help wondering what it would be like having many wives appreciate me — like in such open-minded countries as Afghanistan, where polygamy is a common practice. Speaking of practice, practice may make perfect, but prudence dictates that such things should be checked out before one plunges into it.

Luckily, one has only to turn to Googlepedia to find pertinent reports. For example, a well-educated Imam of Islam, Mohammed Bello Abubakar, was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor and the BBC as saying, “I married 86 women and there is peace in the house — if there is peace, how can this be wrong? A man with ten wives would collapse and die, but my own power is given by Allah. That is why I have been able to control 86 of them.” By the time of his death on January 28 at 92 (years, not wives), he actually had not 86, not 92, but 120 wives, and had fathered 203 children. And I thought I was busy.

But Bello Abubakar was a piker at polygamy compared to that wisest of Old Testament wife hoarders, King Solomon, who is said to have had up to 1,000 wives….not to mention 300 concubines on the side. Apparently, it helps to get religion if one hopes to honey-up and handle hives of wives. Bee that as it may, the problem is that one can’t grab unto just any religion in order to have one’s fill of mates. For example, I was raised Catholic, which is not the most reasonable religion in the world when it comes to conjugal largesse. On top of that — though I am now free of such doctrinaire prohibition — the secular powers-that-be in America maintain equally unenlightened views in marital matters. So you can see what we poor, monogamous men are up against in so-called liberal democracies.

Of course, we could resort to bigamy, but at what cost? It’s a sad state of affairs when you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. But never let it be said that I’m not a broad-minded guy — thus, I call on the following sexpert testimony, which unfortunately (or fortunately, as the case may be) includes no female witnesses:

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same. –Oscar Wilde

The best argument against bigamy is that it leaves a man no place to hang his clothes. –Evan Esar

Bigamy is the only crime where two rites make a wrong. –Bob Hope

Why a man would want a wife is a mystery to bachelors; why a man would want two wives is a bigamystery. –Evan Esar

Polygamy, n. A house of atonement, fitted with several stools of repentance, as distinguished from monogamy, which has but one.–Ambrose Bierce (The Devil’s Dictionary)

Brigham Young originated mass production [in America], but Henry Ford was the one who improved on it. –Will Rogers

Polygamy: an endeavor to get more out of life than there is in it. –Elbert Hubbard

Every man should have four wives: a Persian, with whom he can converse; a woman from Khorasan, for the housework; a Hindu woman to raise the children; and one from Transoxiana, whom he can beat as a warning to the others. –Mirza Aziz Koka

That last quote seems a bit over the top, I must admit. How could the average person be expected to know where the hell Khorasan and Transoxiana are?

 

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FOR YOU, MORE HUMOR

N’yuk-n’yuk-n’yuk! –Curly Howard, The Three Stooges

April being NATIONAL HUMOR MONTH, I thought I’d humor you with humor-us woids of wisdom from some of my favorite humor-ists. I’d have begun with a self-sample, but thought it best to start on a higher plane — and who in comedic history soared higher than Curly when it comes to debonair comedy? So it is written that I must take second place in my own post (third, if you count comedienne Joan Rivers’ intro to my poem):

THE DIVINE COMEDY CLUB

Humor is God’s gift to all of us.
–Joan Rivers

Thank God for funny
because seriously
we could be
dying out there.

Being a comedian is a lonely occupation; you stand on the stage talking to yourself, being overheard by audiences. –Fred Allen

Humor is merely tragedy standing on its head with its pants torn. –Irvin S. Cobb

Humor is just another defense against the universe. –Mel Brooks

When humor works, it works because it’s clarifying what people already feel. It has to come from someplace real. –Tina Fey

Humor is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue. –Virginia Woolf

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. –W. C. Fields

The secret source of humor is not joy but sorrow; there is no humor in Heaven. –Mark Twain

Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humor to console him for what he is. –Francis Bacon

I don’t want to run for office; there’s already too many comedians in Washington. –Will Rogers

Without a sense of humor, I don’t know how people make it. –Marlo Thomas

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We close on an upbeat note from this laughing-at-life jazz great whose birthday is April 7:

 

BE MY GUEST

I’d rather be a great bad poet than a bad good poet. –Ogden Nash

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Today is the birthday, not of Ogden Nash, but of Edgar Guest (Aug. 20, 1881). And who, you might ask, was Mr. Guest, and why is he my special Guest for this post? (Sorry about that, but to paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a pun I didn’t like.) Though he is all but forgotten today, in his day Guest was a poet so popular that he was known as the People’s Poet. Unfortunately for him, this lofty regard was not shared by more discriminating appraisers such as Dorothy Parker, who is reported to have declared:

I’d rather flunk my Wassermann test*
than read a poem by Edgar Guest.”

*a test for syphilis

Were his poems really that bad? Here are a few examples; you be the judge:

Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ living in it.
–from his most famous poem, titled “Home”

When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face,
Lift your chin, and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
–from “See It Through”

Now, I’m not saying I’d rather flunk a syphilis test than read a poem by Edgar Guest, but August 18 was/is BAD POETRY DAY, and one wonders why that date was chosen rather than August 20, which would have coincided perfectly with the birth date of the critics’ poetaster child for BAD POETRY DAY. Of course, it’s possible there are worse poets than Guest, so perhaps neglected candidates for the honor would have raised a stink (as opposed to raising a stinker, like the parents of a certain GOP candidate for President).

But I digress (the devil made me do it). Back on message, your humble host is more than capable of vying for the honor; as proof, he submits the following for your disapproval:

RAINED ALL NIGHT THE DAY I LEFT

It was a dark and stormy night
On the day I left to stay.
The sun was shining brightly
On yon shadows afar away.

I be starting on a journey
Just as soon as I know where.
I’ve packed a lot of nothing
To unpack when I get there.

They say the spirit’s willing,
But the flesh is weak as sin;
The former is my future —
The latter is where I’ve been.

So come, sweet spirit, raise me
From the heap o’ living dead.
I surrender — set me free from
My behind to look ahead.

And should I meet up with trouble,
I’ll meet it squarely and not duck;
I’ll shoulder my chin, a face lift face,
And just show all-around pluck.

And if that doesn’t take me
Beyond that unbending bend,
I’ll just declare this is where
Both journey and poem end.

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Back to Mr. Nash. I opened this opus with his “great bad poet/bad good poet” quote. There was a method to my badness: he was America’s preeminent writer of humorous light verse from 1931 until his death in 1971, a favorite of mine, and, apropos to this post’s focus on an August 18-20 time frame, he was born Aug. 19 (1902). So Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash — a wit as a light versifier and, I might add, no twit as a lyricist; witness his words to this tune composed by Kurt Weill, as sung by Eileen Wilson (lip synced by Ava Gardner) and Dick Haymes in the 1948 Hollywooden film version of the play ONE TOUCH OF VENUS:

 

 

HUMOR INCORPORATED

Humor must both teach and preach if it would live forever; by forever, I mean 30 years.
–Mark Twain

If Webster’s definition of humor as the “quality of imagination quick to perceive the ludicrous or express itself in an amusing way” is on the mark, Twain underestimated the staying power of his humor by nigh onto 100 years (and counting). But “staying” is just one of humor’s possible powers, and because (as Lord Acton famously observed) power tends to corrupt, humor cannot absolutely avoid Acton’s axiom.

My musing on this subject is occasioned by April being National Humor Month — so proclaimed in 1976 by Larry Wilde, Founder/Director of The Carmel Institute of Humor: http://www.larrywilde.com/

As you might expect, The Carmel Institute of Humor is not without serious competition. A similar entity I’ve come across is The Humor Project, Inc., founded by Joel Goodman in 1977 “as the first organization in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor” — a claim that suggests a merger of Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking” with funny business. And, from such appealing funny businesses as Goodman’s, have big businesses grown (judging by their “power” promotions): https://www.humorproject.com/

Now, far be it from me to regard the corporatizing of humor as a phony business — hey, there are worse things to make of humor than a commodity, and worse ways to earn a buck than to commercialize the process. But, purist that I am, I see making humor in the same light as making love: much to be preferred on a human level than as an industry (the virtues of consumer capitalism notwithstanding). Nonetheless, I’m not so doctrinaire as to deny either humor or sex to potential customers when free(?) enterprise comes a-courting.

Unlike Larry Wilde and Joel Goodman, mistermuse does not have a Speaker’s Bureau, a three-day Annual Conference (discounted fee for early registration), a five-point humor program, seminars or workshops. But mistermuse does offer an every-five-days discourse on subjects of interest (his, if not yours) — usually with tongue in cheek, and never with hat in hand. Dis course today concludes with ten humorous quotes, which come with a funny-back guarantee if he doesn’t think they’re priceless:

Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.Oscar Wilde (not to be confused with Larry – or Curly or Moe, for that matter)
Conference: a meeting held to decide when the next meeting will take place. –Evan Esar
You can’t study comedy; it’s within you. –Don Rickles (the Donald Trump of insult-comics)
Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. –W.C. Fields
Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to somebody else. –Will Rogers
Culture is roughly anything we do and monkeys don’t. –Lord Raglan
In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap. –Napoleon Bonesapart (I’ve been waiting a long time for the opportunity to butcher that name)
Politicians do more funny things naturally than I can think of doing purposely. –Will Rogers
Humor is just another defense against the universe. –Mel Brooks
Wit – the salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out. –Ambrose Bierce

Over, and out.

 

IT’S ABOUT TIME

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. –Will Rogers

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Daylight Saving Time arrives on March 13, when, under penalty of painful death or being forced to watch GOP debate videos every day for the rest of your life (you may find death preferable), by law you must arise at 2 a.m. to set clocks ahead one hour….or, if you don’t wish to get up at 2 a.m., you can simply stay up, which many all-night carousers among my readers do anyway (not naming names, of course, but you know who you are).

As a retiree, I have neither caroused nor set an alarm clock for years, so this presents a problem. On the one hand — which, by the way, many timepieces no longer have, much less two hands (they now have digitalis or some such new-fangled technology) — I may just ignore Big Bro and risk the consequences. On the other hand, I could drink a gallon of coffee, stay up, and when the time comes, set my clocks ahead –or is it back — one hour?

Last year, my wife reminded me of an easy way to remember which is which: in spring, spring forward; in fall, fall back….to which I said, “Fine — if it’s so easy, you get up and do it.” Unfortunately, my wife has no sense of humor and cleaned my clock. By the time I came to, it was too past two, so I thought to hell with it, and fell back to sleep. Who needs Daylight Saving Time anyway? If there must be a Saving Time, there ought to be a

To my fellow earth-and-time-sharing fellow Americans, Mexicans, Franciscans, Anglicans, Wiccans, pelicans, toucans of Cannes who can cancan as too few can….and even Republicans: as you know, these are mean times we’re in. It’s enough to drive you cuckoo. I say it’s time to tune out, take a break, and enjoy some timeless old time songs:

A note on There’ll Come A Time, played by Frank Trumbauer’s Orchestra featuring the great and legendary 1920s cornetist Bix Beiderbecke: Bix was born on this day, March 10, 1903 (less than two years after his friend, Louis Armstrong), and died tragically young of alcoholism/pneumonia at age 28. Actually, Bix Beiderbecke never died….he just ran out of time. His sound was so transcendent, remembered guitarist Eddie Condon, it hit you where you lived, “like a girl saying yes.”

I see by ye olde clock on yawnder wall that it’s past midnight. Time to Hit the Road to Dreamland* — but that’s another song for another day.

*by Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer, 1942

 

 

 

ALAS, SHRUGGED

Political elections are a good deal like marriages–there’s no accounting for anyone’s taste. –Will Rogers

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In a March 2 Cincinnati newspaper article (titled ROAD TRIPPIN’ TO COLUMBUS FOR TRUMP), a reporter writes of accompanying four Trump backers on a drive to Columbus (Ohio) for a DONALD TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT rally: “They’re serious about their support for Trump. They shrug off his bombastic speech.”

Alas, what they also “shrug off” is any suggestion that Trump is a big-talking combination of P.T. Barnum, bully, and simplistic-solutions artist who can order away the causes of Americans’ discontent as easily as he fires ‘losers’. Shrug–the perfect word to describe the casualness with which Trump supporters dismiss his “bombastic speech.” Bombastic? More like conveniently ignorant (Trump: “I don’t know anything about [white supremacist] David Duke”), or demeaning (“Would anyone vote for that [Carly Fiorina’s] face?”), or pathetic (“He [John McCain] is not a war hero”), or despicable (mocking a reporter, named Serge Kovaleski, who has a disability). Etc. Etc. Etc. But what do his followers care, because they think he “tells it like it is.”

Here’s how columnist Kathleen Parker saw it in a recent piece titled “The GOP may get what it deserves”: “The challenge for those of us in the observation business [lest you forget, this blog is called THE OBSERVATION POST] is to illuminate what’s plainly obvious without offending those who prefer not to see. But there’s no winning once passions are engaged, and hating the messenger [aka blaming the media] is a time-honored tradition.” Such a business.

One would expect sensible people to realize that Trump is no cure for the uncompromising dogmatism that plagues our politics. So, how to account for the gullibility (or “taste,” as Will Rogers put it) of those who’ve been seduced by their beloved’s dubious charms. Perhaps some see that rivals like Ted Cruz would only deepen the dogmatic ditch that divides us. But that gives them credit for more sophistication than is their due, in my estimation. Most of them simply don’t see Trump for the humbug he is, and dogmatism is a fancy word that doesn’t pay their bills or kick butt.

But Mitt Romney knows better:

Just between us, I find myself hoping that Trump wins the GOP nomination, in the belief (promulgated by Romney and other Republican leaders) that he would lose big to Hillary….and take down with him enough right wing candidates to lose control of the Senate (and hopefully loosen political and tribalistic gridlock in the process). Not that I’m a huge fan of Hillary, but at worst, she is the lesser of two evils, and in any case, more mature, warts and all. Or I may vote for Rabbit Hash Mayor/Presidential candidate Lucy Lou, who may be a dog, but not a dog who tears people apart. Nor, oddly enough, is she the least bit(e) dogmatic.

What is so hard about understanding that working together is the most reasonable and timely way to get things done in a democracy? Hillary’s jingoistic rejoinder to Trump’s jingoistic ‘Make America great again’ campaign slogan is, at least, a starting point: “America never stopped being great. We have to make America whole.” Or at least as whole as is relatively possible in a country divided against itself.

 

WHEEL OF MISFORTUNE

Do you know what day it is today? Of course you do — April 5 is GO FOR BROKE DAY. “Going for broke,” I suppose, could be spun several ways, but as the subject of this post, it’s a day for the (w)ages. I’m putting my hard-earned money on gambling, and I’m betting that you”ll treasure these quotes on the subject. If not, they come with a funny-back guarantee, so what have you got to lose?

There is an easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune: go there with a large one. -Jack Yelton

I like to play blackjack. I’m not addicted to gambling, I’m addicted to sitting in a semi-circle. -Mitch Hedberg

Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math. -Unknown

Last night I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died. -Steven Wright

I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That’s how I lost my mind. -Steve Allen

I bet on a horse at ten-to-one. It didn’t come in until half-past five. -Henny Youngman

I don’t gamble, because winning $100 doesn’t give me great pleasure. But losing $100 pisses me off. -Alex Trebeck

Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning horse. -Richard Sasuly

You know horses are smarter than people. You never heard of a horse going broke betting on people. -Will Rogers

Someone once asked me why women don’t gamble as much as men and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don’t have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women’s total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage. -Gloria Steinem

Money can be lost in more ways than won. -Evan Esar

Baccarat is a game whereby the croupier gathers in money with a flexible sculling oar, then rakes it home. If I could have borrowed his oar, I would have stayed. -Mark Twain

Of course, no discourse on gambling would be complete without this: