Cheers and Jeers: Rum and 40-seat Blue Wave FRIDAY!
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…
Friday Evening Clemens Blogging
Birthday cheers to “The true father of our national literature.” That’s how H.L. Mencken described the force of nature that was Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain. If ever there was a person whose bullshit detector went to 11, it was him. Also in his corner: he was anti-slavery, pro-women’s rights, clear-eyed about religion, and a supporter of labor unions.
My grandmother’s sharp, bone-dry sense of humor was rooted in her childhood absorption of his books, columns and lectures. She would go on to write several Twain reference books, consult with Hal Holbrook on his Tony-winning show Mark Twain Tonight!, and strike up a decades-long friendship with Twain’s daughter Clara, who called her “a walking Mark Twain encyclopedia.” As a kid I got to spend a couple weeks during summer vacations at her house in suburban Chicago, and I can still hear her clackity-clacking out manuscripts on her tiny electric typewriter in the middle of the night—an insomniac on a mission. It is only by the grace of her Twain-inspired sense of humor that I avoided becoming one of the way-too-many “serious” Harnsbergers. Dodged a bullet there. Thanks, Grams. [Poke!]
In honor of Twain’s 183rd birthday, a few of his thoughts that will never have an expiration date:
“The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”
“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Bonus: Twain was a big pootie fan.
“Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
“Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid.”
“My brother had accumulated forty-two brands of Christianity before he was called away.”
“I take my only exercise acting as pallbearer at the funerals of my friends who exercised regularly.”
“Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”
“Man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to.”
Pay your respects here. And then donate a few copies of Huck Finn to your local library…just to piss off the book ban freaks.
Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold… [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]