Friday, May 25, 2007

Five Reasons Other Than Obsession To Read S J Perelman

1. Because he writes things like this about advertising:
The italics are mine, but the desperation is of the whole advertising confraternity. So all the old tactics have finally broken down - wheedling, abuse, snobbery and terror. I look forward to the last great era in advertising, a period packed with gloom, defeatism and frustration, in which spectacles like the following will be commonplace...
2. These words:
the Founder says so pungently
past the World Wide Noodle Corporation, Zwinger & Rumsey, Accountants, and the Ace Secreterial Service, Mimeographing Our Specialty
I knew he had no connection with the herring caper
a minimum of flubdub
interlards his speech with salty imprecations like "Gadzooks" and "by my halidom".
3. The descriptions of impossible plays:
The library of the luxurious Park Avenue triplex of Mr and Mrs Milo Leotard Allardyce DuPlessis Weatherwax. The furnishings display taste but little ostentation: a couple of dozen Breughels, fifteen or twenty El Grecos, a sprinkling of Goyas, a smidgen of Vermeers. The room has a lived-in air: a fistful of loose emeralds lies undusted in an ashtray, and the few first folios in evidence are palpable dog-eared. The curtain rises on a note of marital discord. Octavia Weatherwax, a chic, poised woman in her mid-forties, has just picked up a bust of Amy Lowell by Epstein and smashed it over her husband's head. Milo, a portly, well-groomed man of fifty, spits out a tooth, catches up a bust of Epstein by Amy Lowell, and returns the compliment.
4. Because when he really lets his vowels loose, there's nothing like it.
The premises were filled with steam and a sickening smell of giblets. Besides the usual covetuous faces, there were several unfamiliar ones - a Free French sailor who mistakenly supposed himself at a radio broadcast and an aged beldame with an ear trumpet who kept asking querulously for the next train to Cynwyd.
Over the hubbub, from the kitchen, floated madame's voice offering to triple the maid's salary if she would stay through dinner. Selecting one of the less revolting young cousins, I sat down by hum and attempted to draw him into conversation. (Etc, etc, etc)
5. Names:
Sidney Namlerep
Whitelaw Savory
Lafcadio Replevin
Rex Beeswanger
the Vigorous and Tweedy School
the Puissant Valve & Flange Corporation


nailpolishblues said...

Obsession with whom or what?

Karen said...

He certainly sounds like your intellectual soul mate! I suppose this is your final conclusive blow in making me and all your other readers check out Perelman, after all the subliminal hinting.

I'm re-reading Burke now. It's nice to remember how enjoyable he is to read.

Tonight, in my increasingly exciting life, I attended a primary school arts and crafts fair. I did receive a free glass of wince, which I promptly spilt over my hand and my foot, but it was otherwise very tedious. Further to our conversation on The Eating-in Bed Cookbook, I spotted The Golfer's Bedside Companion, which just sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it? I know you can make something of that.
Must fly. My sister's here tonight and wants to monopolise the computer downloading "Lost" episodes. I know people love that show, but I can't stand it.

I will read Perelman at some point, I promise.

nailpolishblues said...

I can only find two problems with Lost.
1) That they persist in showing things that aren't Naveen Andrews.
2) That Naveen Andrews is clothed.

TimT said...

I am not certain at this point whether I should discuss 'Lost' or Edmund Burke, so I will just say this: when I read Burke, I became lost about halfway through and had to give up. I do believe his entire book on the French revolution is a gigantic paragraph.

Playing golf in bed certainly sounds like something only marginally less practical than eating in bed.

TimT said...

I'm not reading Perelman anymore, by the way. That quote in number 4 made me laugh out loud on the street the other day, though - Perelman really does do that alliteration(?)* brilliantly. I'm onto Herodotus now, though I'm finding it rather slow going.

Who the hell is Naveen Andrews?

*Does it apply to vowels as well as consonants, or have I forgotten a technical term here.

Karen said...

You can opt for the pop culture if you like, I don't mind. I will say, though, that I find Burke's writing rather sensual. And I think you mean assonance.

Am I to understand that you read whilst walking or were you sitting down or listening to the Perelman on tape or remembering it because you have it by heart? I'm very amused by the idea of someone sauntering down to the Wunderhammer (?) with his head in a book, pedestrians diving this way and that. Perhaps you'd swat them away, absent-mindedly! One really needs a book on playing golf whilst walking- with other people!

The Golf in Bed book was green and had a cartoon of a golf nut huddled over said book in bed with a (no doubt) long-suffering woman lying beside him, a pained expression on her face. It seemed like a fate worse than football boredom. Much less practical than eating in bed (which I have successfully done several times since we spoke about the subject, although not as elaborately as Barbara Byfield suggests)-unless one prefers all one's pleasures to eventually become solitary.

I'm so out of touch with the world of "Lost" that I had to resort to wikipedia on the Naveen Andrews question too. I thought it was that bloke from The English Patient when I saw one of the ads. Although he is in fact clothed, it does seem like you get quite a bit of muscle tone for your troubles.

nailpolishblues said...

Your google doesn't work?

Karen said...

God, my comments are embarrassingly long. I really must work on modifying the verbosity!

Karen said...

No, I just find wikipedia gets you there faster sometimes. Does google offer better pictures?

nailpolishblues said...

Actually, Karen, our comments crossed. I meant that for Tim.

Mind you, images does offer some great shots of Naveen and, well, everything else.

TimT said...

Naveen Andrews, it seems, is the new Adonis. I bought a copy of the Herald Sun today and he's doing the cover shot for their magazine.

Karen, that would mean that I would have to talk about Perelman letting loose his vowels with his assonance, and that would be rude.

And yes, I read and walk. I call it weading.

nailpolishblues said...

If by 'new' you mean the last decade and a haf, then yes.

How talented you are, Tim, I can barely walk a straight line.

Karen said...

Tim, if I didn't know any better I would say that you were just pretending to forget "assonance", so someone could tell you and you could then "not" make that joke.

You must have a lot of bumps and bruises on your forehead from telegraph poles and such. Please tell me you at least stop "weading" when you cross the road.

TimT said...

I am ashamed to say that the word really had completely gone out of my head, and it was therefore an entirely pleasant coincidence to be informed of the phenomenon of 'assonance'. Thank you for knowing better and not having such low expectations of me; I shall strive to live down to them in future.

Please tell me you at least stop "weading" when you cross the road.

No. In fact, once I was walking along the footpath accompanied only
by a magazine and a milkshake, and had a messy accident with the lamp post. This was outside a crowded bus stop.

So I'm not necessarily 'talented', Nails, as unwilling or unable to learn from bitter experience...

nailpolishblues said...

No Naveen in my newspaper. The disappointment, as you can imagine, is immense.

At least your accidents involve something other than your own feet. It's awful having spastic feet :(

Karen said...

I assure you, Tim, that I think very highly of you and certainly do not always know better. I am alarmed by this magazine/milkshake/perambulating carelessly thing, however. I've grown very fond of your wit and do not wish for it to diminish or perish, so please take more care of the grey matter!

(An afternoon spent thumbing my nose at copyright law in the library, concluding just in time to pop into Haigh's before it shut- bliss!).

nailpolishblues said...

I think a pope-mobile is in order - that's precious cargo, you know?

It's time for my self banishment to resume, don't you think? Never mind, that was a rhetorical question [yes, I know what that means]...

TimT said...

Would a rhetorical 'no, please stick around' make any difference?

nailpolishblues said...

No. You're on your own, kid. [Sorry, saw Obi-wan [a very ugly one] at a party and so had t watch Star Wars to sober up before sleep so am currently channelling Han Solo.]

Maybe I'll stop after today. Hmmm. I am so lenient with myself.

Wait, are you being ironic?

TimT said...

Not unless you're being Polish.

TimT said...

I admit, it's the best I can do, and it's still terrible.

nailpolishblues said...


pwlsax said...

Milo Usufruct.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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