Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Put Downs and Stand Ups

The Art of the Putdown
And one who did something about it.

Humor international: During my college days – the late 19th century I believe but cannot remember for sure – I had a most interesting and diverse roommate. He was Chinese, born in Shanghai, but reared in Peru. He was a series of contradictions; Chinese but 6’2” reared in South America but spoke English without an accent, and named Sandy. The years went by and we went our separate ways, but always stayed in contact. Sandy had an exciting job that took him to domiciles in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. He is now retired and lives half the year in California and half in Thailand. Sandy has retained his razor sharp wit and recently sent me a series of insults and putdowns attributed to notable people. I would like to share them with you:

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli:
"Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli,
"Whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." -
- Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."
- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
- Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend... if you have one."
- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second... if there is one."
- Winston Churchill in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." –
- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others."
-Samuel Johnson

"In order to avoid being called a flirt she always yielded easily." -
- Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
- Forrest Tucker

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they don't go."
- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination."
- Andrew Lang

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
- Groucho Marx

The classic exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:
She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

Do unto others – but do it first: In response to the quotes sent to me by Sandy I’ll add a few of my own, proving once again that two wasted youths are better than one.

A woman bet her friend that she could get Calvin Coolidge to speak to her, which was something he was reluctant to do. She went up to him and said: "Hello, Mr. President, I bet my friend that I could get you to say three words to me."
"You lose," Coolidge replied dryly, and walked away.
~Author Unknown

Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it.
~Mark Twain

She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say "when."
~P.G. Wodehouse

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.
~English professor, Ohio University

The problem with the gene pool is that there's no lifeguard.
~David Gerrold

"When you go to the mind reader, do you get half price?"
--David Letterman

The above comments are fodder for humor. But when the depiction of groups of people becomes represented as “accurate" in the media, it is no longer humorous but unfair and serves no useful purpose.

Some words and images are designed to hurt: Dr. Jack Shaheen was born and reared in Clairton, PA. The graduate of Clairton High School went to Hollywood after graduation to get an insider’s view of the world of entertainment. Clairton had been a classic example of a melting pot during Jack’s youth – Anglos, Germans, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, African Americans, and countless others all working, living, and shopping together in his hometown. So it was that he was taken aback by the stereotyping he witnessed in the entertainment industry. From the Step-and-fetch-it portrayal of African Americans, to the “Only good Indian is a dead Indian” portrayal, to the terrorist portrayal of Arabs, the stereotypes were both unfair and inaccurate. Young Jack decided to devote his life and work to include lectures and writings that illustrate damaging racial and ethnic stereotypes of Asians, African Americans, Native Americans and other innocent people.

From youngster to scholar: Dr. Shaheen, Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University is an Oxford Research Scholar and the recipient of two Fulbright teaching awards. He holds degrees from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, (Carnegie-Mellon University), Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Missouri. He has authored four books and more than 300 essays. He’s delivered lectures in all 50 states and on three continents and is a former CBS consultant on Middle East Affairs. He has won numerous awards recognizing his “outstanding contribution towards a better understanding of our global community.” He is an internationally acclaimed author and media critic, and a committed internationalist and a devoted humanist. Dr. Jack Shaheen, Clairton boy.

A little blogging music maestro… “We Are the World” by Dan Aykroyd, Harry Belafonte, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Sheila E., Bob Geldof, Hall and Oates, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, LaToya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and the News, Kenny Logins, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Jeffery Osborne, Steve Perry, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Michael Boddicker - Synthesizers, Programming, Paulinho da Costa – Percussion, Louis Johnson – Bass, Quincy Jones – Producer, Michael Omartian - Keyboards, Producer, Greg Phillinganes – Keyboards, John Robinson – Drums

Dr. Forgot


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