Friday, February 29, 2008

The right kind of McCarthyism.

In 1978, Bergen announced his retirement. Charlie would be
donated to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to which he replied, “Well, at least I won't be the only dummy in Washington.” Only nine days after his announcement, Bergen died in his sleep after a performance at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

W.C. Fields: “Well, Charlie McCarthy, the woodpecker's pinup boy.”

W.C. Fields: “I love children. I can remember when, with my own little unsteady legs, I toddled from room to room.”
Charlie: “When was that? Last night?”

W.C. Fields: “Quiet, Wormwood, or I’ll whittle you down to a coathanger.”

W.C. Fields: “Tell me, Charles, is it true that your father was a gate-leg table?”
Charlie: “If it is, your father was under it.”

W.C. Fields: “Why, you stunted spruce, I’ll throw a Japanese beetle on you.”
Charlie: “Why, you bar-fly you, I'll stick a wick in your mouth, and use you for an alcohol lamp!”

Charlie: “Pink elephants take aspirin to get rid of W. C. Fields.”

W.C. Fields: “Step out of the sun Charles. You may come unglued.”
Charlie: “Mind if I stand in the shade of your Nose?”

Sam Berman’s caricature of Charlie McCarthy and Edgar Bergen for 1947 NBC promotion book

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Abraham Lincoln had a cat named Bob. Doo-dah, doo-dah.

It’s the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, born in Hardin County, Kentucky (now part of LaRue County) in 1809. Here are some things that you may not have known about Lincoln: He was the first president to have a beard while in office. And he was the tallest president at six feet, four inches.

He was the first president to be photographed at his inauguration. And in the picture of his second inauguration you can see John Wilkes Booth standing near him.

Lincoln liked animals and he owned a cat, “Bob,” a turkey, “Jack,” and a dog, “Jib.” On the night of his assassination, they found in Lincoln's pockets two pairs of glasses, an ivory and silver pocketknife, a linen handkerchief, a Confederate five-dollar bill, a gold watch fob, and a new leather wallet with a pencil inside of it.

Lincoln was the only president ever to receive a patent. It was for a device that lifted ships over shoals in the water.

He was known for keeping an untidy office and also for his loud and resonant laugh. He admired the works of Edgar Allan Poe, but when Lincoln saw that a campaign document had claimed that he spent his free time reading Plutarch, he began reading Lives.

Many thought that Lincoln was overindulgent as a father and he would let his youngest two boys run and play freely in the Presidential Office.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cute...and tasty!

[[This from England’s Daily Mail, via my friend Jill Earl. Happy VD to all!]]

A cute little piglet born with heart-shaped markings on his side is the centre of attention as lovers gear up for Valentine’s Day this week.

The 10-day-old Gloucester Old Spot piglet christened Valentine—
what else?—is one of a litter of seven born at Byford’s Farm in Taynton,
near Newent, Glos.

Farmer Eric Freeman, 75—a founding member of the Gloucester Old Spot Pig Breeders’ Club—said Valentine's mother Mandi Lou has already got used to her piglet stealing the show.

“Some sows get really annoyed and squeal but Old Spots are known for being quiet,” he said. “Mandi Lou was very good and didn't mind Valentine having her picture taken. I’ve bred thousands of Old Spot piglets over the years but this is the first ever to have such a clear heart-shaped mark. It couldn't be more appropriate with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.”

Mr Freeman has been breeding Old Spots at his farm for 25 years
and said the breed has come back from near-extinction in the
past few years.

“I think there are probably around 400 members of the breeders’ club and they have spread far and wide,” he said. “There has been a lot of interest because they are a fatty breed and it's a different taste to the normal type of pig—it's much more succulent.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weasel Words & Sokolowski.

[[This from one of my favorite podcasts—Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, with Peter Sokolowski—subscribe to it thru iTunes if you like words as much as I do. Also with a little bio tidbit about Peter.]]

Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, served as primary editor for Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary and worked on defining and etymological dating for Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. He is the host of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Podcast and can be heard monthly (on the first Monday of each month, at 7:35 a.m.--PST) on Southern California's KKZZ radio. In addition to his lexicographical work, Peter hosts a jazz program on WFCR (an NPR affiliate in Amherst, MA) and is an accomplished trumpet player.

[[Ah, weasel words...where would politicians and business people be without them?]]

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 18, 2008 is: weasel word \WEE-zul-WURD\ noun
: a word used in order to mislead a person or to avoid a straight answer Example sentence: Instead of just saying outright that jobs are going to be cut, the head of the company has taken to using weasel words like “corporate restructuring.” Did you know? Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using “weasel word” to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Potent Quotables. 7 feb 08.

“Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.”
—Anton Chekhov

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Real St. Nicholas.

So, another Writer’s Almanac...reading about Mary Mapes Dodge, who wrote Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates in 1895. Later she oversaw a magazine for Scribner’s called St. Nicholas, which published the first childish works of Ring Lardner, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Eudora Welty, Edmund Wilson and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Also found this account of the early St. Nicholas, which has very little to do with reindeers and the bringing of presents...interesting:

A wealthy gentleman in Asia, the story runs, sent his two sons to Athens to be educated. He charged the boys at parting to stop at Myra on their way and pay their respects to his reverence, the bishop. The boys reached the city at night, and took lodgings in an inn, intending to make the promised call in the morning.

Now the landlord was a very wicked man, and when he saw the boys’ rich store of baggage he resolved to rob and murder them. So when the poor boys were asleep, he crept up to their room and dispatched them, and, to conceal his terrible deed, he cut up their bodies and packed them in a pickling-tub with some pork, intending to sell the whole to some ship in the Adriatic.

Now good St. Nicholas that night saw it all in a dream, and in the morning he put on his pontifical robes (for he was now an archbishop), and, with his crozier in his hand, went in holy indignation to the inn.

The landlord was greatly frightened when he saw the archbishop, and on being accused, fell upon his knees and confessed his crime.

St. Nicholas next went to the tub in his pontificals, and he passed his hands over the boys, who at once hopped up and out of the pickled pork alive and whole. The happy fellows began to sing praises to St. Nicholas, but he, good soul, would not listen to it. He told them to worship none but God. The boys, at once recovering their possessions, went on their way rejoicing, and St. Nicholas was regarded as the special protector of boys and students from that hour.

Most of the old pictures represent three boys in the pickling-tub, all with uplifted hands, praising good St. Nicholas. We suspect that three boys in the tub, instead of two, better suited the fancy of the old artists. It did not make a great deal of difference in point of fact, and it certainly made a better picture.

Woolf Burns.

Catching up on some Writer’s Almanac podcasts, ran across one from Jan. 25 with the birthdays of two great writers, perhaps not likely to be found at the same birthday bash.

From the great Robbie Burns, Bonie Doon:

Ye flowery banks o’ bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu’ o’ care?

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;

Thou minds me o’ the happy days,
When my fause luve was true.

Thou’ll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate:
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o’ my fate.

Aft have I roved by bonie Doon
To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o’ its luve,
And sae did I o’ mine.

Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose,
But left the thorn wi’ me.

and writing advice from Virginia Woolf from A Room of One’s Own:

So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some Headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring-rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity, which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Signs of the End.

A few nice sign photos sent to me by my buddy Bill DeMain, after he and Molly Felder (Swan Dive) went on a short tour to Korea. He knows I appreciate a funny sign—in any language.

It seems pigs the world over are just awfully happy to be barbecued. And need it be said...everybody loves MONKEYS!?