WHAT CAN I SAY? IT’S EMMA NUTT DAY!

“I’m very thankful that my first name was not Imma.”EMMA NUTT

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Who was Imma — I mean Emma — Nutt….and why do we celebrate her day today? Imma glad you ask-a that question. For the answer in a Nuttshell, click here:

Emma Nutt, The World’s 1st Woman Telephone Operator

Hello, Central? (I’d explain what Central was, but it’s less than central to our conversation.)

I’m calling because, as you can tell from Emma’s hiring by A. Bell, it was soon clear to him that this was both a Nutt job and a switch for the better. But back in those simpler times, being a telephone operator wasn’t all that simple:

Even a switchboard manned by a male in a military school wasn’t off the hook when it came to complications (sorry about the clipped picture in this clip, but unfortunately I can’t find this scene in full screen (it’s from a Billy Wilder film starring Ginger Rogers):

Telephones have played a major part in many movies. Here are more of my ‘phoney’ favorites from yesteryear, starting with the one that started it all:

THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL* (1939), starring Don Ameche as Bell
BELLS ARE RINGING (1960), starring Judy Holliday and Dean Martin
DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954), starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly
SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (1948), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster
HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940), starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell

*If you ever pay a call on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, don’t miss the outstanding ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL MUSEUM at Baddeck. It’s a ringleader among museums!

Of course, telephones weren’t featured only in classic films. Remember this TV skit?

And now I’m going to GET SMART and quit while I’m ahead….and Agent 86 is afoot:

 

 

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TITLES FOR BARE NAKED POEMS

Words should be only the clothes, carefully custom-made to fit the thought. –Jules Renard

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With the above in mind, I have tailored the following titles to fit a dozen poems fashioned to stir your imagination. WARNING: These poems may drive you stir crazy; do not take too literally.

WHITE OUT

I THOUGHT ABOUT EWE*

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

EASY WRITER

THIS IS A PIECE OF CAKE

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

POETIC SUBSTANCE ABUSE

BLACK AND….

SNOW JOB IN SIBERIA

DRAWING A BLANK

SHAKESPEARE’S WORK BY BACON

LOVE’S LABOR#

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#The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.
–G. K. Chesterton

*In coming up with this title, I thought about this Johnny Mercer song:

 

 

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.

 

 

 

A TOWERING FIGURE IN POETRY

April is NATIONAL POETRY MONTH (as decreed by the Academy of American Poets in 1996). Can there be any doubt that a poet of my stature* would be expected to contribute a poem to the celebration?

*about 5′ 7″

As it happens, I had a poem in my April 20 post, but that doesn’t count….unless I say it does, which I don’t, because I’ve composed a new poem for the occasion (or any occasion, for that matter). The point is that this occasion happens to be at hand and is sufficiently worthy of a work of such distingué distinktion:

ONCE A POET

Once I wrote poems;
Writing poems was fun.
Once I wrote poems;
Now I write none.

Once I wrote poems;
Poems were my life.
Once I wrote poems;
Then I met my wife.

I’m just joking, of course;
I still write, as you see —
For my wife loves my poems,
And I still loves she*.

*That end word was going to be me, but that might be the end of me, so I reconsidered.

Thank you very much, ladies and sentimentalmen. I’m glad you appreciate the heartfelt passion and savoir fairy that went into said poem. Your defecating applause on this historic day warms my cockles to the core. This calls for a curtain call. But I don’t have another new poem handy, so how about two oldies that survived previous publication:

RHYME GONE TO HELL

I don’t comprehend
why poems that rhyme
must, most of the time,
just rhyme at line’s end.
Who so decreed it to, as though it needed
to? And would it spell

nonsense if most rhymes
commence where lines start?
Dare we call it art?
Where I’m at, at times,
is: does it matter where rhyme is, if indeed
it’s where mine is? Hell!!!

TRYING TIMES

Forgive me, please, my verse you’ve read —
Much better works are in my head….
–  But they’ll remain there
–  Until the brain there
Learns how to extract gold from lead.

But enough about me. Let us close on a serious quote from ex-Chancellor of the aforementioned Academy of American Poets, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet/novelist, Robert Penn Warren, who was fittingly born (April, 1905) in what would become National Poetry Month:
Historical sense and poetic sense should not, in the end, be contradictory, for if poetry is the little myth we make, history is the big myth we live, and in our living, constantly remake.

 

 

STRICTLY, FROM HUNGARY

You must remember this — the opening scene (after opening credits) in CASABLANCA:

I am reminded of that scene’s “tortuous, roundabout refugee trail” when seeing reports  of tens of thousands fleeing from war-torn Syria, west across the Mediterranean in small boats to Greece, and thence overland hundreds of miles through passageway countries to Germany and other destinations. Some die in the attempt (recall the picture-worth-a-thousand-words of the lifeless body of a 3 year old boy washed up on a Turkish beach in early September). Many “wait….and wait….and wait….and wait” in refugee camps. Many more have been kept from continuing on, stopped on their way by the far right government of Hungary, which has been particularly strict in this regard. If you thought “exit visas/letters of transit” were hard to come by in CASABLANCA….

Perhaps you’ve read some of the recent series of articles in USA TODAY called TREK WITH MIGRANTS in which journalist Kim Hjelmgaard follows “migrants on their arduous 1,500 mile journey from Greece to Berlin” to witness their challenges. Particularly illuminating was Day 7 (CHECKING OUT WALL CURLING ACROSS HUNGARY) of that series, from which I quote:

I sat next to Robert [Kim’s guide] for most of Thursday as his car zigzagged around small-town Hungary in search of new additions to Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s controversial barrier. The Hungarian leader has already erected a 15-foot-high rampart along the entire 110-mile border with Serbia. Now, he was starting work on a fence to close the 25-mile [border] with Croatia.
On my way up here this week from Greece, I had been told by several people not to mess with Hungarian police. They are prone to violence, they said. Last week, several journalists said they were beaten and detained for speaking to refugees. So it was Robert (and Naomi), or go straight to the Austrian border, and I didn’t want to do that. Naomi, his girlfriend, wasn’t in the car in the usual sense, but they were in frequent contact by phone, Facebook and text message.
He told me that the “very beautiful” Naomi — she is 19; he is 23 — was studying to be a physical therapist, and she wanted to one day own a “big, big” house in Sweden and possess extremely expensive things.
This wall in Hungary had been a flashpoint in the migrant crisis;
I asked if he thought it was good for Hungary to be trying to seal its borders when so many people were intent on getting through anyway.
Robert said he didn’t have an opinion either way. And so I asked about Naomi, what does she think, this policeman’s daughter? And of course Naomi had an opinion. I could hear that by the way her voice was spilling out over the edges of Robert’s cellphone. “She said she thinks the wall is a good idea, and that she also understands why the people are leaving their countries,” Robert said.
“And Sweden?” I asked. “Was there any contradiction in her wanting to go there for the ‘big, big’ house, and people wanting to come to Europe for a house?”
He didn’t know. I didn’t either.

There is, of course, more to the refugee crisis than the one scene here. Still, one wonders, why can’t Hungary abide terrorized people passing through? Is Hungary worried that they’ll see how wonderful Hungary is and change their minds about continuing on? Is Hungary concerned that they’ll devour all available food and leave the country so Hungary that it will starve? Is Hungary afraid they’ll leave a trail of drugs, crime, and raped women in their wake? If so, why doesn’t Hungary say so? When it comes to demonizing illegals crossing borders, Hungary’s right wing counterparts in America have no such qualms (and, unlike America, Hungary’s “illegals” don’t come to stay).

This is a post without a happy ending….but before I close, you younger-than-I trivia buffs may be interested in the origin/meaning of the idiom on which the post’s title is based:

Strictly From Hunger: Explanations, investigations

THE PUNS OF AUGUST

Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to find a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, stalled trains, shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening –on a lucky day– without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena.
Barbara Tuchman, author of The Guns of August (1962 Pulitzer Prize winner)
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I chose the above tongue-in-cheek quote to serve as the introduction to this pun-in-cheek post because….well, because the post’s title had come to me as wordplay based on the title of Tuchman’s book, and I thought the quote would connect the dots….

Now that the dots are taken care of, let us turn to the pun, which, it’s alleged, is mightier than the sword….as long as you don’t get the point. Hahahahaha. The pun has been defined as a short quip followed by a long groan (which is punderstandable if you get the point, assuming it has a point, which would seem to be the point, otherwise what is the point?). It’s all very punfusing.

But enough about whatever that was about. Here are more killer puns (not mine, you’ll be pleased to know) for your edification. If you don’t suffer from edification, take them for anything that ails you.They’re guaranteed to cure every ill known to man. If you’re a woman, take them anyway, just in case you come in contact with man. Why take chances?

What do sea monsters eat for lunch? Fish and ships.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

Having sex in an elevator is wrong on so many levels.

What do the Bermuda Triangle and sexy women have in common? They both swallow a lot of seamen.

I told some jokes about the unemployed, but none of them worked.

Thank God for nipples. Without them, boobs would be pointless. 

I accidentally swallowed some Scrabble tiles. My next crap could spell disaster.

Vagina jokes aren’t funny. Period.

Thieves broke into my house and stole everything except my soap, towels and deodorant. Dirty bastards.

I couldn’t figure out how to fasten my seatbelt. Then it clicked!

People who say they suffer from constipation are full of shit.

I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory, when all I did was take a day off.

Speaking of taking a day off, I’m off for the next five days. I leave you with this disclaimer: I assume you are a groan-up and therefore I am NOT RESPUNSIBLE for any side effects, sound effects, after effects or any other effects resulting from reading this post, with the exception of an irresistible urge to send me money (diamonds and gold also accepted).