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Posts Tagged ‘Marx Brothers

“I suffer from everyday life”*…

 

Philosopher, essayist, and poet Fred Moten

“I think mayonnaise has a complex kind of relation to the sublime,” [Moten] said. “And I think emulsion does generally. It’s something about that intermediary—I don’t know—place, between being solid and being a liquid, that has a weird relation to the sublime, in the sense that the sublimity of it is in the indefinable nature of it.”

“It’s liminal also,” I offered.

“It’s liminal, and it connects to the body in a certain way.”

“You have to shake it up,” I said. “You have to put the energy into it to get it into that state.”

“Anyway,” Moten said, “mostly I just don’t fucking like it.”…

The New Yorker‘s David Wallace on “Fred Moten’s radical critique of the present.”

* Italo Calvino

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As we contemplate the quotidian, we might recall that it was on this date in 1924 that the Marx Brother’s took Broadway by storm.  Already vaudeville stars, they’d wrangled a spot on the Great White Way, a last-minute opening for which they threw together a review based nominally on an unsuccessful musical comedy by Will and Tom Johnstone, originally written for British actress Kitty Gordon as Love For Sale.  The Marx Brothers substituted in some of their most trustworthy material and called it I’ll Say She Is.

In one of show business’ great strokes of luck, the opening night of a major dramatic play, slated for this same date, was canceled, leading all of New York’s leading critics instead to the premiere of the relatively-unknown Marx Brothers’ show.  Their extraordinary banter and slapstick astounded the critics, and put the Brothers on the road to Broadway, then Hollywood fame.

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Written by LW

May 19, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Send me a postcard”*…

 

“This is the Life.”

From @PastPostcard, images of old postcards, along with transcribed text from their backs. As Rebecca Onion (from whom, the tip) remarks, “a simple idea, and a great one.”

For more on the history of the postcard, see the Richard Carline work cited here.

* lyric from a song of the same name, recorded in 1968 by The Shocking Blue.

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As we mail it in, we might say the magic word and collect $100, as it’s the birthday of Groucho Marx, born this date in 1890.

From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it.
– To S.J. Perelman

PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER
– telegram to the Friar’s Club

Groucho

Written by LW

October 2, 2016 at 1:01 am

“It’s the 8th Wonder of the World”*…

 

 

Linotype typecasting machines revolutionized publishing when they were invented in 1886, and remained the industry standard for nearly a century after. The first commercially successful mechanical typesetter, the Linotype significantly sped up the printing process, allowing for larger and more local daily newspapers. In Farewell, etaoin shrdlu (the latter portion of the title taken from the nonsense words created by running your fingers down the letters of the machine’s first two rows), the former New York Times proofreader David Loeb Weiss bids a loving farewell to the Linotype by chronicling its final day of use at the Times on 1 July 1978. An evenhanded treatment of the unremitting march of technological progress, Weiss’s film about an outmoded craft is stylistically vintage yet also immediate in its investigation of modernity…

Via Aeon: “The last day of hot metal press before computers come in at The New York Times.”

* Thomas Edison, speaking of the linotype machine

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As we agree with John O’Hara that “hot lead can be almost as effective coming from a linotype as from a firearm,” we might spare a thought for a communicator of a very different sort, Arthur Duer “Harpo” Marx; he died on this date in 1964.  A comedian, actor, mime, and musician, he was the second-oldest of the Marx Brothers.  Harpo was a master of both the clown and pantomime traditions; he wore a curly reddish blonde wig, never spoke during performances, and of course, played the harp in each of the Marx Brothers’ films.  A man of wide and varied friendships, he was a member of the Algonquin Roundtable.

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Written by LW

September 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

“The only difference between me and a madman is I’m not mad”*…

 

Dali sketching Harpo as he plays a harp with barbed wire for strings and spoons, knives, and forks glued to its frame– a gift from Dali.

Salvador Dali loved the Marx Brothers. He loved their madcap, anarchic comedy. In particular Dali loved Harpo Marx—the blonde corkscrew-haired comic mime whose visual comedy—unlike the quick witty repartee of his brother Groucho—was universal and needed no translation. Dali described Harpo as one of America’s three great Surrealists—the other two being Walt Disney and Cecil B. DeMille.

The pair first met at a party in Paris in 1936. Harpo told Dali how much he liked his paintings. Dali told Harpo how much he loved his films—in particular Animal Crackers, which he described as “the summit of the evolution of comic cinema.” Dali gushed over Harpo’s performance where he pulled fish and cutlery from his pocket and shot the hats of beautiful women—this was true Surrealism!

Understandably, the two men became friends…

Dali brought Harpo a gift—a movie script he wanted the Marx Brothers to make. The script was called Giraffes on Horseback Salads or The Surrealist Woman. It was a series of unconnected scenes typed in blue ribbon over twenty-two pages with various notes written in ink. Dali had already made two infamous films with his friend the director Luis Buñuel—Un Chien Andalou (1929) and L’Age d’Or. Now he wanted to cast Harpo and cinema’s “greatest Surrealist act,” the Marx Brothers, in a film that just might revolutionize Hollywood—or maybe not

More on this extraordinary friendship– and a taste of Dali’s treatment for Giraffes on Horseback Salads— at “When Dali Met Harpo.”

[TotH to friend P.R.]

* Salvador Dali

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As we recall that the Marx Brothers had a remarkable range of friends, we might send classy birthday greetings to one of them, Lou Gehrig; he was born Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig on this date in 1903.  A first baseman for the New Your Yankees for 16 years, he was know (for his stamina) as “The Iron Horse.”  A member of six World Series champion teams, he was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner once, an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player twice.  He had a career .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average; he hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI).  Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939– the year of his retirement– he was the first Major League player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team.

He is pictured here with friends:

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Written by LW

June 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Swordfish”*…

 

More at Nihilistic Password Security Questions

* Professor Wagstaff (Groucho Marx), Horsefeathers

Baravelli [Chico]: …you can’t come in unless you give the password.
Professor Wagstaff: Well, what is the password?
Baravelli: Aw, no. You gotta tell me. Hey, I tell what I do. I give you three guesses. It’s the name of a fish.
Professor Wagstaff: Is it “Mary?”
Baravelli: [laughing] ‘At’s-a no fish!
Professor Wagstaff: She isn’t? Well, she drinks like one! …Let me see… Is it “Sturgeon”?
Baravelli: Aw, you-a craze. A “sturgeon”, he’s a doctor cuts you open when-a you sick. Now I give you one more chance.
Wagstaff: I got it! “Haddock”.
Baravelli: ‘At’s a-funny, I got a “haddock” too.
Wagstaff: What do you take for a “haddock”?
Baravelli: Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes I take a calomel.
Wagstaff: Y’know, I’d walk a mile for a calomel.
Baravelli: You mean chocolate calomel? I like-a that too, but you no guess it. [Slams door. Wagstaff knocks again. Baravelli opens peephole again.] Hey, what’s-a matter, you no understand English? You can’t come in here unless you say, “Swordfish.” Now I’ll give you one more guess.
Professor Wagstaff: …swordfish, swordfish… I think I got it. Is it “swordfish”?
Baravelli: Hah. That’s-a it. You guess it.
Professor Wagstaff: Pretty good, eh?

“Pinky” (Harpo, who, of course, operated only in pantomime), gets into the speakeasy by pulling a sword and a fish out of his trench coat and showing them to the doorman.

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As we take security desperately seriously, we might recall that it was on this date in (what we now call) 46 BCE, that the final year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar, began.  The Romans had added a leap month every few years to keep their lunar calendar in sync with the solar year, but had missed a few with the chaos of the civil wars of the late Republic. Julius Caesar added two extra leap months to recalibrate the calendar in preparation for his calendar reform, which went into effect in (what we now now as) 45 BC.  The year, which had 445 days, was thus known as annus confusionis (“year of confusion”).

Fragmentary fresco of a pre-Julian Roman calendar

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Written by LW

October 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

“They still believe in God, the family, angels, witches, goblins, logic, clarity, punctuation, and other obsolete stuff”*…

Exclamation Comma

“Just because you’re excited about something doesn’t mean you have to end the sentence”

The Interrobang, the Asterism, and a dozen other curious connectors at BuzzFeed’s “14 Punctuation Marks That You Never Knew Existed.”

* Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

As we resist coming to a full stop, we might send silent birthday wishes to Adolph (later Arthur) “Harpo” Marx; he was born on this date in 1888.  Harpo’s signature style, he recalls in his autobiography, was born after reading a review of one of the earliest performances he did with his brothers; it read, in part: “Adolph Marx performed beautiful pantomime which was ruined whenever he spoke.”  Thereafter, of course, it was all whistles and horns…

And mallets:  Harpo was inducted into the Croquet Hall of Fame in 1979.

source

 

Written by LW

November 23, 2011 at 1:01 am

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