Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This week's moral: men and women are both bitter and bright!

Since last week's entry mentioned bright girls, I decided to make this week's theme bright men! Bitter men, too, for a variety of reasons. Both women and men have reasons to be bitter, I think -- indeed, last week's bright girl-writer made several bitter notes (remember?: "[unlike men,] girls do not throw away the good they have won upon the hockey field, and the swimming bath, by imbibing whisky and other absurd concoctions, by sucking ceaselessly upon a filthy tobacco pipe, nor by crowding into hot billiard rooms and bar parlours"). But these men have particular reason to be bitter, starting with a Collector's Item about a put-upon brother-in-law:

The conceit of this 1930 Limited Edition (number 56 of 250 printed) is that it's an account of the Flood, as related by Noah's brother-in-law. In mannered verse form, it notes that Noah's brother-in-law doesn't much like Noah, and then goes on to describe their (peculiarly modern) society as it is deluged:

Our government shows its fore-sight. In the sky
with some projector-trick last night it writ:
"Stay in your houses. It will soon be dry."
Indeed it will. And so the people sit
without one trace of panic. By and by
we'll gain control of the storm-clouds bit by bit.
But now it's the present, and I'm rather glad
for the little touches of strange we've had.

Do I perchance detect some social commentary? Indeed, although the illustrations are great ...

... the best part may be the fact that as Noah's brother-in-law goes under, his final thought is about how ugly his carpet is (said carpet was given him by his cursed brother-in-law, of course). Yes, it does seem to me that the poem describes human nature to a T. And this psychological portrait could be yours for $300.00! Also, you could impress every Religion major you know.

Now that we've established that brothers-in-law are bitter, let's move on to this Affordable and Interesting bit on married men:

As the cover notes, this is a novelization of the 1965 movie (click here) -- the tagline for which was, "Bring the little woman -- maybe she'll die laughing!" The plot (such as it is) concerns the young Stanley Ford, who accidentally marries a gorgeous Italian woman. His consternation is well summed up by this scene with his butler, Charles:

There was a suspicion of moisture, of anguish in Mr. Ford's eyes. His eyes had the look of suffering of a TV headache commercial before fast, Fast, FAST relief.
"Charles," Mr. Ford said.
Some men are made of iron, some men have hearts of oak. Charles was made of flesh and blood, after all. His veneer, his icy sophistication, his air of disapproval collapsed.
"Good God! How did it happen, sir?"
Like two shipwrecked men who find each other on a desert island long after each had given up all other crew members for lost, they almost fell into each other's arms.

Obviously, Mr. Ford -- upon finding himself in this untenable situation -- seeks the only possible solution.

I'm tempted to see the movie myself! To me, nothing sounds worse right now than marriage; perhaps someday I could use such a how-to guide. Perhaps I'll be able to relate to Mr. Ford (probably better than his blonde cooking-genius wife). But rather than renting the film I may simply purchase this book for $3.00, so you should snap it up if you want it! (Or if you want to save the life of any potential husband of mine ...)

I think Mr. Ford would have liked this week's Favorite:

The title page states that this hilarious 1903 book was "compiled by an old maid and approved by a young bachelor; illustrated by an ex-bachelor; and published by a young married man". It features a misogynistic saying for every day of the year (May 14: "Women, plain or fair, do not readily forgive. --William Sharp"; I think the best is November 16, "To remain a woman's ideal, a man must die a bachelor. -- Smart Set"). It also has wonderfully expressive illustrations:

And they're very persuasive, I think! If you have any friends who need to be persuaded out of some ridiculous marriage, perhaps you should lay down $20.00 for them. The friend will doubtless thank you later!

I think my work here may be done, now that I've covered both women and men of both bright and bitter persuasions. What more is there to talk about, really? Maybe next week I'll just cover inanimate, soulless objects. See you then, gentle readers!

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