Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Birds and the Foxes
James Thurber, from Fables for Our Time. New York, 1940
ONCE upon a time there was a bird sanctuary in which hundreds of Baltimore orioles lived together happily. The refuge consisted of a forest entirely surrounded by a high wire fence. When it was put up, a pack of foxes who lived nearby protested that it was an arbitrary and unnatural boundary. However, they did nothing about it at the time because they were interested in civilizing the geese and ducks on the neighboring farms. When all the geese and ducks had been civilized, and there was nothing else left to eat, the foxes once more turned their attention to the bird sanctuary. Their leader announced that there had once been foxes in the sanctuary but that they. had been driven out. He proclaimed that Baltimore orioles belonged in Baltimore. He said, furthermore, that the orioles in the sanctuary were a continuous menace to the peace of the world. The other animals cautioned the foxes not to disturb the birds in their sanctuary.
So the foxes attacked the sanctuary one night and tore down the fence that surrounded it. The orioles rushes out and were instantly killed and eaten by the foxes.
The next day the leader of the foxes, a fox from whom God was receiving daily guidance, got upon the rostrum and addressed the other foxes. His message was simple and sublime. "You see before you," he said, "another Lincoln. We have liberated all those birds!"
Moral: Government of the orioles, by the foxes, and for the foxes, must perish from the earth.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
by Col. StoopnagleWordplay is a long and venerable tradition in my family, continuing into the present generation.
My father had a book called The Pee Little Thrigs by Colonel Stoopnagle, which included the story from which the title of this Blog is taken (more of that another day). I used to delight in reading it.
The items below were written by Stoopnagle (more about him some other time). They are offered as a tribute to my late Father and late brother-in-law, Peter.
|ALTARCATION||Left at the church|
|AMBIDEXTROSE||Being able to buy either granulated or lump sugar|
|ANNIVERSORRY||The wedding date you should have remembered, but didn't|
|ARCTICULATION||Eskimo as she should be spoke|
|ARRESTOCRAT||Police chief with a social background|
|BAAZAAR||A sheep fair|
|BARETENDER||He mixes drinks in a nudist colony|
|BENNYFIT||Jack [Benny], doing a show for charity|
|BIGLOO||A deluxe Eskimo dwelling|
|BOTHTUB||A place for bathing twins|
|BRAYN||What a donkey thinks with|
|BREADUCATION||Learning to become a baker|
|BROOMATISM||Pain sweeping down your leg|
|CAN'TCHOVIES||When you are unable to eat them|
|CELLOFEIGN||An imaginary transparent wrapper|
|CHAMPAGNEZEE||A gent who makes a monkey of himself in night clubs|
|CHAIRUB||An angel sitting down|
|CIGARETIQUETTE||Not dropping ashes on the floor|
|CLARINOT||A guy who doesn't play the clarinet|
|CONCUBEEN||An old concubine|
|CUCUMBERSOME||A hefty pickle|
|DADPOLE||A papa polliwog|
|DAPPERITION||Ghost with a top hat, white tie and tails|
|DIMOCRACY||The U.S.A. during a blackout|
|DISAPPEARAMID||Mirage on the Sahara desert|
|DRABBIT||A dull brown bunny|
|DWHARF||An undersized pier|
|EGGOTIST||A self-centered hen|
|FARMERCY||A drugstore for agriculturists|
|FLATLAS||A map of the world before Columbus|
|FOETOGRAPH||A picture of the enemy|
|FRANTIQUE||Just crazy about old things|
|GHOSTOFFICE||Where the dead letters are buried|
|GRASSIERE||A Hawaiian undergarment|
|GRUMLIN||A grim and gloomy gremlin|
|HEALICOPTER||One the doctor flies around in|
|HELLOCUTIONIST||A telephone operator|
|HINDUITION||Gandhi's instinctive insight|
|HOGMENTED||An increase in the pig family|
|HYMNPROVEMENT||Better singing in church|
|IDON'TICAL||Two things that don't look alike|
|IMMEDIATRICIAN||Doctor who wants to operate right away|
|IMMURAL||A lewd picture on a wall|
|INFIZZABLE||What the bubbles are when a drink's flat|
|JUMBEAU||A lady elephant's sweetheart|
|KNOCKTURNAL||Somebody at the door at midnight|
|LACKOMOTIVE||A train without an engine|
|LACKSIMILE||Something that doesn't look like anything|
|LAUGHTERMATH||When Fred Allen's show is over|
|MA'AMOTH||A great big lady elephant of long ago|
|MAJAMAS||What mother wears at night|
|MALTIMILLIONAIRE||A wealthy brewer|
|MANOKLEPTIAC||A guy who backs into department stores, puts stuff on the counter and runs like anything|
|MC CANICK||An Irish machine operator|
|MENUFACTURER||Guy who prints the bills of fare|
|MEWSICIAN||Kitten on the keys|
|MINNIE-ATURE||What Mickey Mouse carries in the back of his watch|
|NAYBOR||The guy next door who'll never let you borrow the lawn mower|
|NEARLOUGH||Same as a furlough, but you don't go so fur|
|NETIQUETTE||Emily Post on tennis|
|NEWSPEPPER||Hot off the press|
|OINKMENT||Salve for a sick pig|
|O-LIMP-IAN||Greek runner with a Charley horse|
|OWTING||Picnic under a wasps' nest|
|PADDLESCENTS||Kids in a canoe|
|PASS'EMIST||Guy who thinks he'll never get by that line of traffic|
|PEDALGOGUE||A Latin teacher on a bicycle|
|PINSTITUTE||A bowling emporium|
|POORTRAIT||A picture of you that you don't like|
|PORCUPRONE||A porcupine lying face down|
|POSSECAT||A cat who hunts mice with a gun|
|PRAYDIO||What we listen to on Sunday morning|
|PROFISHIONAL||Man who catches herring for a living|
|PURRGATORY||Where naughty little kittens go|
|REFRIGERAIDER||A midnight marauder|
|ROAMEO||A vagabond lover|
|ROUGHEREE||A football umpire who's hard on the players|
|SAPARATION||Taking the maple syrup from the maple|
|SCISSORO||A Roman orator known for his shear wisdom|
|SIRCUMFERENCE||Distance around a man's middle|
|SNUBURB||Outlying district where the snooty bluebloods live|
|SOWND||Noise made by a lady pig|
|SPITCHER||A tobacco-chewing baseball hurler|
|SPLITIGATION||The proceeds of a lawsuit divided between the lawyers|
|SUBOURBONITE||A tipsy commuter|
|SWIGWAM||A tepee with a bar|
|TELLERPHONE||To give a bank clerk a ring|
|TOYLET||Bathroom in a dollhouse|
|TROUTLAW||A guy who fishes forbidden waters|
|WAGABOND||A wandering puppy|
|WEERIE||A tired ghost|
|WHIRMAID||An up-to-date mermaid equipped with a propeller|
|WHOPPERWILL||A great big night bird|
|WOBBLYGATO||A decrepit old violinist|
|WRENOVATION||Overhauling the little birdhouse for the new spring occupant|
|YESTIMATE||To calculate the number of affirmative votes|
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
by John Lennon
I have a little budgie
He is my very pal
I take him walks in Britain I hope I always shall.
I call my budgie Jeffrey
My grandads name's the same
I call him after grandad
Who had a feathered brain.
Some people don't like budgies
The little yellow brats
They eat them up for breakfast
Or give them to their cats.
My uncle ate a budgie
It was so fat and fair.
I cried and called him Ronnie
He didn't seem to care.
Although his name was Arthur
It didn't mean a thing.
He went into a petshop
And ate up everything.
The doctors looked inside him,
To see what they could do,
But he had been too greedy
He died just like a zoo.
My Jeffrey chirps and twitters
When I walk into the room,
I make him scrambled egg on toast
And feed him with a spoon.
He sings like other budgies
But only when in trim
But most of all on Sunday
Thats when I plug him in.
He flies about the room sometimes
And sits upon my bed
And if he's really happy
He does it on my head.
He's on a diet now you know
>From eating far too much
They say if he gets fatter
He'll have to wear a crutch.
It would be funny wouldn't it
A budgie on a stick
Imagine all the people
Laughing till they're sick.
So that's my budgie Jeffrey
Fat and yellow too
I love him more than daddie
And I'm only thirty two.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Forty-five minutes later, Mrs. Barrows left the president's office and went into her own, shutting the door. It wasn't until half an hour later than Mr. Fitweiler sent for Mr. Martin. The head of the filing department, neat, quiet, attentive, stood in front of the old man's desk. Mr. Fitweiler was pale and nervous. He took his glasses off and twiddled them. He made a small, bruffing sound in his throat. "Martin,'' he said, "you have been with us more than twenty years." “Twenty-two, sir," said Mr. Martin. "In that time," pursued the president, ''your work and your - uh - manner have been exemplary.'' "I trust so, sir," said Mr. Martin. "I have understood, Martin," said Mr. Fitweiler, "that you have never taken a drink or smoked." "That is correct, sir," said Mr. Martin. "Ah, yes." Mr. Fitweiler polished his glasses. "You may describe what you did after leaving the office yesterday, Martin,'' he said. Mr. Martin allowed less than a second for his bewildered pause. "Certainly, sir," he said. "I walked home. Then I went to Schrafft's for dinner. Afterward I walked home again. I went to bed early, sir, and read a magazine for a while. I was asleep before eleven." "Ah, yes," said Mr. Fitweiler again. He was silent for a moment, searching for the proper words to say to the head of the filing department. "Mrs. Barrows,'' he said finally, "Mrs. Barrows has worked hard, Martin, very hard. It grieves me to report that she has suffered a severe breakdown. It has taken the form of a persecution complex accompanied by distressing hallucinations.'' "I am very sorry, sir," said Mr. Martin. "Mrs. Barrows is under the delusion," continued Mr. Fitweiler, "that you visited her last evening and behaved yourself in an - uh - unseemly manner." He raised his hand to silence Mr. Martin's little pained outcry. "It is the nature of these psychological diseases,'' Mr. Fitweiler said, "to fix upon the least likely and most innocent party as the - uh - source of persecution. These matters are not for the lay mind to grasp, Martin. I've just had my psychiatrist, Dr. Fitch, on the phone. He would not, of course, commit himself, but he made enough generalizations to substantiate my suspicions. I suggested to Mrs. Barrows, when she had completed her - uh - story to me this morning, that she visit Dr. Fitch, for I suspected a condition at once. She flew, I regret to say, into a rage, and demanded - uh - requested that I call you on the carpet. You may not know, Martin, but Mrs. Barrows had planned a reorganization of your department - subject to my approval, of course, subject to my approval. This brought you, rather than anyone else, to her mind- but again that is a phenomenon for Dr. Fitch and not for us. So, Martin, I am afraid Mrs. Barrows' usefulness here is at an end." "I am dreadfully sorry, sir," said Mr. Martin.
It was at this point that the door to the office blew open with the suddenness of a gas-main explosion and Mrs. Barrows catapulted through it. "Is the little rat denying it?" she screamed. "He can't get away with that!" Mr. Martin got up and moved discreetly to a point beside Mr. Fitweiler' s chair. "You drank and smoked at my apartment,'' she bawled at Mr. Martin, "and you know it! You called Mr.Fitweiler an old windbag and said you were going to blow him up when you got coked to the gills on your heroin!'' She stopped yelling to catch her breath and a new glint came into her popping eyes. "If you weren't such a drab, ordinary little man," she said, "I 'd think you'd planned it all. Sticking your tongue out, saying you were sitting in the catbird seat, because you thought no one would believe me when I told it! My God, it's really too perfect!'' She brayed loudly and hysterically, and the fury was on her again. She glared at Mr. Fitweiler. "Can't you see how he has tricked us, you old fool? Can't you see his little game?" But Mr. Fitweiler had been surreptitiously pressing all the buttons under the top of his desk and employees of F & S began pouring into the room. "Stockton,'' said Mr. Fitweiler, "you and Fishbein will take Mrs. Barrows to her home. Mrs. Powell, you will go with them." Stockton, who had played a little football in high school, blocked Mrs. Barrows as she made for Mr. Martin. It took him and Fishbein together to force her out of the door into the hall, crowded with stenographers and office boys. She was still screaming imprecations at Mr. Martin, tangled and contradictory imprecations. The hubbub finally died out down the corridor.
"I regret that this has happened," said Mr. Fitweiler. "I shall ask you to dismiss it from your mind, Martin." "Yes, sir," said Mr. Martin anticipating his chief’s "That will be all'' by moving to the door. "I will dismiss it." He went out and shut the door, and his step was light and quick in the hall. When he entered his department he had slowed down to his customary gait, and he walked quietly across the room to the W20 file, wearing a look of studious concentration.