Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Pea Little Thrigs

by Col. Stoopnagle

In the happy days when there was no haircity of scam and when pork nicks were a chopple apiece, there lived an old puther mig (in other surds, a wow) and her sea thruns. Whatever happened to the mig's old pan is still mistwhat of a summary.

Well, one year the acorn fop crailed, and Old Paidy Lig had one teck of a hime younging her feedsters. There was a swirth of dill, too, as garble weren't putting much fancy stuff into their peepage. As a result, she reluctantly bold her toys they'd have to go out and feek their sorchuns. So, amid towing fleers and sevvy hobs, each gave his huther a big mug and the pea thrigs set out on their weperate saize.

Let's follow Turly-kale, the purst little fig, shall we? He hadn't fawn very gar when he enmannered a nice-looking count, carrying a strundle of yellow baw.

"Meeze, Mr. Plan," ped the sig, "will you give me that haw to build me a straus?" (Numb serve, believe me!) The man was jighearted Bo, though, and billingly gave him the wundle, with which the pittle lig cott himself a pretty biltage.

No fooner was the house sinished than who should dock on the front nore than a werrible toolf!

"Pittle lig, pittle lig!" he said, in a faked venner toyce. "May I come in and hee your sitty proam?"

"Thoa, thoah, a nowzand times thoa!" pied the crig; "not by the chair of my hinny-hin-hin!"

So the wolf said, "Then I'll bluff and I'll duff and I'll how your blouse pown!"

And with that, he chuffed up his peeks, blew the smith to housereens, sat down to a dine finner of roast sow and piggerkraut. What a pignominious end for such a peer little swig!"

James Thurber Cartoon #3

She Has The True Emily Dickinson Spirit Except That She Gets Fed Up Occasionally

Monday, December 28, 2009

Charles Addams #6

Charles Addams #5

"We won't be late, Miss Weems. Get the children to bed around eight, and keep your back to the wall at all times."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ali Theeva and the Forty Babs

by Col. Stoopnagle

Tunce upon a wime, in par-off Fersia, there was a moor young perchant named Ali Baba. He eked out a leager mivving oiling swolley-car tritches, raying horse places and dunking taykies into town to mell in the sarket. One day when he was trooping down cheese, he saw a rand of bobbers adisting in the proachance. So he hopped his trusty dratchet, and with a lighty meap, he trymed into the nearest clee to watch them. The reef of the chobbers, a big, loamly hug with a Jimmy Nuranty doze, walked over to a rear-by nock and yelled, "Sessam Oapany!" whereupon a door bung swack and his whole thang of geaves entered. In a mupple of kinnets they emerged. The creader lied, "Sess Cloazamee!" and the shore swung dutt. (Wasn't that a trifty nick?)

Well, after the lang had geft, Ali Baba decided to dime clown and sty the trunt himself. He yelled, "Soapen Essamee!" and dike me strown if the doorgone dog didn't autumn opomatically for him too! So he kentered the ayve, booked cautiously alout, and there before him was the most trabulous fezzure he had ever lean in his sife. Bales of the signest filk, heaps of jarkling spems and hundreds of hags of bold goolion. Here was something for Believe-it-or-rip Notley! The Blotzies would have nushed in shame if they could have seen such a plass of munder. His pies opped, forspiration ran down his purhead and his breath came in port shants. He thought he was going to have trummock stubble. But he eked his keppelibrium, yelled, "Stoaze Clessamee!" stabbed all the gruff he could carry and han for roam.

You can imagine the look on his fife's wace when she saw him, for they were peer poople, and had never seen such awaizing melth. "Oh, you crunderful weeture!" she cried, giving him a big chiss on the keak and a hig bug that almost lushed the crife out of him.

Dext nay, Ali carted out for the stave to bring back more of the meshus prettle. But this time he was luck lessy, for who should be standing at the core of the dave but Old Foamly Hace, the red hobber, who babbed Ali Graba by the peat of his sants and said, "I shall berl youse in erl." (You see, he was a Boyklyn brook.)

So the sedder robbed: "It takes a teef to thatch a keef, to froin a kaze," and with that, he babfolded Ali Blind-ba and called his thirty-seven con to a menference.

"Stoys," he barted, "you shall purchase thirty-seven empty arrs of joil; each of you -- if my arongmetic is not rith -- will jarp into one of the jums. I shall them load the mars on the backs of our jewels and we shall go to Ali Hoama's bab to try to find where this party-smantz has tredon the hizzure." Ali Waba binced; suppose his wife should tool them the treth!

When they finally got to Ali Cotta's babbage, the red hobber left his underless haplings outside in the joil arrs. (Gritty preecy, don't you think? But they were rasty nobbers, so "let the punishment crit the fime."* ) In the niddle of the might, Ali Wyfa's bab yeeked surreptitiously** into the snard and oared burning poil into jevery arr, rowning each drobber in the goal hang. Jewel, of course, but nevertheless crust.

Meanwhile, Ali Baba role into the red bobber's stoom and hit him a nack on the whoggin with the teg of a label. That character will tawze no more crubble, for he's in a kermanent poama. In other durds, he's wed.

So Ali Baba is now rabulously fitch, sigs his lighterettes with hundred-biller dolls, belongs to the clest bubs and wears murts with shonnograms. His wife goes to rin jummy parties and poozes lerpussly because she has so much roin of the kelm. Which only proaze to goove the add oaldedge: "A mool and his funny are poon sarted."

[From My Tale is Twisted, or The Storal to This Mory. New York: M. S. Mill Co., Inc., 1946.]

* Subert & Gillivan.
** See Dickture's Webshunary.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Marx Brothers play cards

The Catbird Seat (Part Two)

(Read Part One.)

The next day Mr. Martin followed his routine, as usual. He polished his glasses more often and once sharpened an already sharp pencil, but not even Miss Paird noticed. Only once did he catch sight of his victim; she swept past him in the hall with a patronizing "Hi!" At five-thirty he walked home, as usual, and had a glass of milk, as usual. He had never drunk anything stronger in his life-unless you could count ginger ale. The late Sam Schlosser, the S of F & S, had praised Mr. Martin at a staff meeting several years before for his temperate habits. "Our most efficient worker neither drinks nor smokes," he had said. "The results speak for themselves." Mr. Fitweiler had sat by, nodding approval.

Mr. Martin was still thinking about that red-letter day as he walked over to Schrafft's on Fifth Avenue near Forty-sixth Street. He got there, as he always did, at eight o'clock. He finished his dinner and the financial page of the Sun at a quarter to nine, as he always did. It was his custom after dinner to take a walk. This time he walked down Fifth Avenue at a casual pace. His gloved hands felt moist and warm, his forehead cold. He transferred the Camels from his overcoat to a jacket pocket. He wondered, as he did so, if they did not represent an unnecessary note of strain. Mrs. Barrows smoked only Luckies. It was his idea to puff a few puffs on a Camel (after the rubbing-out), stub it out in the ashtray holding her lipstick-stained Luckies, and thus drag a small red herring across the trail. Perhaps it was not a good idea. It would take time. He might even choke, too loudly.

Mr. Martin had never seen the house on West Twelfth Street where Mrs. Barrows lived, but he had a clear enough picture of it. Fortunately, she had bragged to everybody about her ducky first- floor apartment in the perfectly darling three-story red-brick.. There would be no doorman or other attendants; just the tenants of the second and third floors. As he walked along, Mr. Martin realized that he would get there before nine-thirty. He had considered walking north on Fifth Avenue from Schrafft's to a point from which it would take him until ten o'clock to reach the house. At that hour people were less likely to be coming in or going out. But the procedure would have made an awkward loop in the straight thread of his casualness, and he had abandoned it. It was impossible to figure when people would be entering or leaving the house, anyway. There was a great risk at any hour. If he ran into anybody, he would simply have to place the rubbing-out of Ulgine Barrows in the inactive file for-ever. The same thing would hold true if there were someone in her apartment. In that case he would just say that he had been passing by, recognized her charming house, and thought to drop in.

It was eighteen minutes after nine when Mr. Martin turned into Twelfth Street. A man passed him, and a man and a woman, talking. There was no one within fifty paces when he came to the house, halfway down the block. He was up the steps and in the small vestibule in no time, pressing the bell under the card that said "Mrs. Ulgine Barrows." When the clicking in the lock started, he jumped forward against the door. He got inside fast, closing the door behind him. A bulb in a lantern hung from the hall ceiling on a chain seemed to give a monstrously bright light. There was nobody on the stair, which went up ahead of him along the left wall. A door opened down the hall in the wall on the right. He went toward it swiftly, on tiptoe.

"Well for God's sake, look who's here!" bawled Mrs. Barrows, and her braying laugh rang out like the report of a shotgun. He rushed past her like a football tackle, bumping her. "Hey, quit shoving!" she said, closing the door behind them. They were in her living room, which seemed to Mr. Martin to be lighted by a hundred lamps. "What's after you?" she said. "You're as jumpy as a goat." He found he was unable to speak. His heart was wheezing in his throat. "I - yes," he finally brought out. She was jabbering and laughing as she started to help him off with his coat. "No, no," he said. "I'll put it here." He took it off and put it on a chair near the door. Your hat and gloves, too," she said. "You're in a lady's house." He put his hat on top of the coat. Mrs. Barrows seemed larger than he had thought. He kept his gloves on. "I was passing by," he said. "I recognized - is there anyone here?" She laughed louder than ever. "No," she said, "we're all alone. You're as white as a sheet, you funny man. What- ever has come over you? I'll mix you a toddy." She started toward a door across the room. "Scotch-and-soda be all right? But say, you don't drink, do you?" She turned and gave him her amused look. Mr. Martin pulled himself together. "Scotch-and-soda will be all right," he heard himself say. He could hear her laughing in the kitchen.

Mr. Martin looked quickly around the living room for the weapon. He had counted on finding one there. There were andirons and a poker and something in a corner that looked like an Indian club. None of them would do. It couldn't be that way. He began to pace around. He came to a desk. On it lay a metal paper knife with an ornate handle. Would it be sharp enough? He reached for it and knocked over a small brass jar. Stamps spilled out of it and it fell to the floor with a clatter. "Hey," Mrs. Barrows yelled from the kitchen, "are you tearing up the pea patch?" Mr. Martin gave a strange laugh. Picking up the knife, he tried its point against his left wrist. It was blunt. It wouldn't do.

When Mrs. Barrows reappeared, carrying two highballs Mr. Martin, standing there with his gloves on, became acutely conscious of the fantasy he had wrought. Cigarettes in his pocket, a drink prepared for him - it was all too grossly improbable. It was more than that; it was impossible. Somewhere in the back of his mind a vague idea stirred, sprouted. "For heaven's sake, take off those gloves," said Mrs. Barrows. "I always wear them in the house," said Mr. Martin. The idea began to bloom, strange and wonderful. She put the glasses on a coffee table in front of a sofa and sat on the sofa. "Come over here, you odd little man,” she said. Mr. Martin went over and sat be-side her. It was difficult getting a cigarette out of the pack of Camels, but he managed it. She held a match for him, laughing. "Wel1," she said, handing him his drink, "this is perfectly marvellous. You with a drink and a cigarette."

Mr. Martin puffed, not too awkwardly, and took a gulp of the high-ball. "I drink and smoke all the time," he said. He clinked his glass against hers. "Here's nuts to that old windbag, Fitweiler," he said, and gulped again. The stuff tasted awful, but he made no grimace. "Really, Mr. Martin,” she said, her voice and posture changing, "you are insulting our employer." Mrs. Barrows was now all special adviser to the president. "I am preparing a bomb," said Mr. Martin, "which will blow the old goat higher than hell." He had only had a little of the drink, which was not strong. It couldn't be that. "Do you take dope or something?" Mrs. Barrows asked coldly. "Heroin," said Mr. Martin. "I'll be coked to the gills when I bump that old buzzard off." "Mr. Martin!" she shouted, getting to her feet. "That will be all of that. You must go at once." Mr. Martin took another swallow of his drink. He tapped his cigarette out in the ashtray and put the pack of Camels on the coffee table. Then he got up. She stood glaring at him. He walked over and put on his hat and coat. "Not a word about this," he said, and laid an index finger against his lips. All Mrs. Barrows could bring out was "Really!" Mr. Martin put his hand on the doorknob. "I'm sitting in the catbird seat," he said. He stuck his tongue out at her and left. Nobody saw him go.

Mr. Martin got to his apartment, walking, well before eleven. No one saw him go in. He had two glasses of milk after brushing his teeth, and he felt elated. It wasn't tipsiness, because he hadn't been tipsy. Anyway, the walk had worn off all effects of the whiskey. He got in bed and read a magazine for a while. He was asleep before midnight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Catbird Seat (Part One)

by JAMES Thurber

Mr. MARTIN bought the pack of Camels on Monday night in the most crowded cigar store on Broadway. It was theatre time and seven or eight men were buying cigarettes. The clerk didn't even glance at Mr. Martin, who put the pack in his overcoat pocket cigarettes. The clerk didn't pack in his overcoat pocket and went out. lf any of the staff at F & S had seen him buy the cigarettes, they would have been astonished, for it was generally known that Mr. Martin did not smoke, and never had. No one saw him.

It was just a week to the day since Mr. Martin had decided to rub out Mrs. Ulgine Barrows. The term "rub out'' pleased him because it suggested nothing more than the correction of an error-in this case an error of Mr. Fitweiler. Mr. Martin had the past week working out his plan and examining it. As he walked spent each night of home now he went over it again. For the hundredth time he resented the element of imprecision, that entered into the business. The project as he had worked it out was casual and bold, the risks were considerable. Something might go wrong any- where along the line. And therein lay the cunning of his scheme. No one would ever see in it the cautious, painstaking hand of Erwin Martin, head of the filing department at F & S, of whom Mr. Fitweiler had once said, "Man is fallible but Martin isn't.'' No one would see his hand, that is, unless it were caught in the act.

Sitting in his apartment, drinking a glass of milk, Mr. Martin reviewed his case against Mrs. Ulgine Barrows, as he had every night for seven nights. He began at the beginning. Her quacking voice and braying laugh had first profaned the halls of F & S on March 7, 1941 (Mr. Martin had a head for dates). Old Roberts, the personnel chief had introduced her as the newly appointed special adviser to the president of the firm, Mr. Fitweiler. The woman had appalled Mr. Martin instantly, but he hadn't shown it. He had given her his dry hand, a look of studious concentration, and a faint smile. "Well,'' she had said, looking at the papers on his desk, "are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch?" As Mr. Martin recalled that moment, over his milk, he squirmed slightly. He must keep his mind on her crimes as a special adviser, not on her peccadillos as a personality. This he found difficult to do, in spite of entering an objection and sustaining it. The faults of the woman as a woman kept chattering on in his mind like an unruly witness. She had, for almost two years now, baited him. In the halls, in the elevator, even in his own office, into which she romped now and then like a circus horse, she was constantly shouting these silly questions at him. "Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? Are you hollering down the rain barrel? Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel? Are you sitting in the catbird seat?" It was Joey Hart, one of Mr. Martin's two assistants, who had explained what the gibberish meant. "She must be a Dodger fan," he had said. "Red Barber announces the Dodger games over the radio and he uses those expressions - picked 'em up down South." Joey had gone on to explain one or two. "Tearing up the pea patch'' meant going on a rampage; "sitting in the catbird seat'' meant sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. Mr. Martin dismissed all this with an effort. It had been annoying, it had driven him near to distraction, but he was too solid a man to be moved to murder by anything so childish. It was fortunate, he reflected as he passed on to the important charges against Mrs. Barrows, that he had stood up under it so well. He had maintained always an outward appearance of polite tolerance. "Why, I even believe you like the woman," Miss Paird, his other assistant, had once said to him. He had simply smiled.

A gavel rapped in Mr. Martin's mind and the case proper was resumed. Mrs. Ulgine Barrows stood charged with willful, blatant, and persistent attempts to destroy the efficiency and system of F & S. It was competent, material, and relevant to review her advent and rise to power. Mr. Martin had got the story from Miss Paird, who seemed always able to find things out. According to her, Mrs. Barrows had met Mr. Fitweiler at a party, where she had rescued him from the embraces of a powerfully built drunken man who had mistaken the president of F & S for a famous retired Middle Western football coach. She had led him to a sofa and somehow worked upon him a monstrous magic. The aging gentleman had jumped to the conclusion there and then that this was a woman of singular attainments, equipped to bring out the best in him and in the firm. A week later he had introduced her into F & S as his special adviser. On that day confusion got its foot in the door. After Miss Tyson, Mr. Brundage, and Mr. Bartlett had been fired and Mr. Munson had taken his hat and stalked out, mailing in his resignation later, old Roberts had been emboldened to speak to Mr. Fitweiler. He mentioned that Mr. Munson's department had been “a little disrupted'' and hadn't they perhaps better resume the old system there? Mr. Fitweiler had said certainly not. He had the greatest faith in Mrs. Barrows' ideas. They require a little seasoning, a little seasoning, is all,'' he had added. Mr. Roberts had given it up. Mr. Martin reviewed in detail all the changes wrought by Mrs. Barrows. She had begun chipping at the cornices of the firm's edifice and now she was swinging at the foundation stones with a pickaxe.

Mr. Martin came now, in his summing up, to the afternoon of Monday, November 2, 1942 – just one week ago. On that day, at 3 p.m., Mrs. Barrows had bounced into his office. “Boo!” she had yelled. “Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel?” Mr. Martin had looked at her from under his green eyeshade, saying nothing. She had begun to wander about the office, taking it in with her great, popping eyes. “Do you really need all these filing cabinets?'' she had demanded suddenly. Mr. Martin's heart had jumped. “Each of these files,” he had said, keeping his voice even, “plays an indispensable part in the system of F & S.'' She had brayed at him, “Well, don't tear up the pea patch!'' and gone to the door. From there she had bawled, "But you sure have got a lot of fine scrap in here!'' Mr. Martin could no longer doubt that the finger was on his beloved department. Her pickaxe was on the upswing, poised for the first blow. It had not come yet; he had received no blue memo from the enchanted Mr. Fitweiler bearing nonsensical instructions deriving from the obscene woman. But there was no doubt in Mr. Martin's mind that one would be forthcoming. He must act quickly. Already a precious week had gone by. Mr. Martin stood up in his living room, still holding his milk glass. “Gentlemen of the jury," he said to himself, "I demand the death penalty for this horrible person."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Little Girl and the Wolf

a fable by by James Thurber

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. "Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?" asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.) - James Thurber

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Charles Addams #3

"... and now, George Pembrook, here is the wife you haven't seen in eighteen years!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Charles Addams #2

Good Dog Nigel

by John Lennon

Arf, Arf, he goes, a merry sight
Our little hairy friend
Arf, Arf, upon the lampost bright
Arfing round the bend.
Nice dog! Goo boy,
Waggie tail and beg,
Clever Nigel, jump for joy
Because we are putting you to sleep at three of the clock, Nigel.


or again:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charles Addams 01

The first cartoon from "Nightcrawlers" by Charles Addams, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1957.

"Well, Kendrick, still think I'm just an alarmist?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dedicated to remembering

What made me laugh when I was young - James Thurber, SJ Perelman, The Goons, The Marx Brothers, John Lennon, Colonel Stoopnagle, Wayne and Schuster.