Truer Than True

 

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I love to read statements made by authors (or their characters) that are even more true today than when they were written. The following examples are some that have jumped out at me in the past couple of years. I have ordered them backwards chronologically.

⇒  “I wouldn’t be surprised if a show about nudists was a hit…_ “ – I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (2010) 

Now we have Dating Naked, Naked and Afraid, and a host of others

⇒  “Look at television, Father had said- Dad is shown as a dummy who stumbles around and breaks things and gets into trouble, usually to be rescued by a small child or a pet. Children watch hours of this junk every week.” – Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor (1985)

A 2001 study by Erica Scharrer in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media found that the number of times a mother told a joke at the father’s expense increased from 1.80 times per episode in the 1950s to 4.29 times per episode in 1990.

⇒  “We aren’t persecuted very much nowadays, we Christians, at least not overtly. But in point of fact there is a good bit of sub-rosa persecution, ridiculing if not reviling. In children’s books, death and sex used to be taboo, Now death and sex are “in”, and Christianity is the new taboo; other religions are appreciated, Buddhism, Hinduism, the pre-Christian Druidism; Christianity is not tolerated. And not only in children’s literature. It has been made taboo by those who do not understand it … of course we intelligent people don’t need God and we certainly aren’t interested in the cross. Only those poor people who aren’t strong enough on their own go in for the false promises of religion. – The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle (1977)

All I can say is this is even more prevalent today than ever before. I see it not only in children’s literature, but on TV programs, in the news, on social media.

⇒  “We have – particularly in the United States, particularly in the suburbs – allowed ourselves to live in a child-centered world; the children have become more important to the parents than the parents are to each other; and suddenly the children grow up and leave the nest and the parents find themselves alone with each other, and discover with horror that there is nobody there.” – A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle (1972)

Wow! It was surprising to me to hear her talk about a child-centered world in 1972. Today’s world is even more child-centered, from play-dates and birthday party productions to travel sports teams.

⇒  “When a city begins to grow and spread outward from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in; poorer people move in as rents fall, and small fringe businesses take the place of once flowering establishments.” – Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (1961)

I’ve seen this happen in Jacksonville and have seen the results of it in Birmingham. Both of these towns have and are making efforts to bring people back to the city centers.

⇒  “Today, the language of advertising enjoys an enormous circulation. With its deliberate infraction of grammatical rules and its crossbreeding of the parts of speech, it profoundly influences the tongues and pens of children and adults.” – An E.B. White Reader, from the chapter titled “Prefer the Standard to the Offbeat “ by E.B. White (1959).

Here are some examples of intentional infractions in advertising:

“More power. More style. More technology. Less doors.” – Mercedes breaks the grammar rule that says “less” is used with mass nouns and “fewer” with countable nouns: “Door” is a countable noun; ergo, we’re obliged to say “fewer doors.”

“For hair and/or body, or both.” (Old Spice)

“Got milk?”

 

 

Thanks for the Memory

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London, July 26, 1943 – “When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. The man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people,” – from Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck

bob

After reading this, I had to do a little research on the man. I’ve enjoyed his movies over the years, and knew about his USO work, but I wanted to know more.

The song “Thanks for the Memory”, which later became his trademark, was introduced in the film The Big Broadcast of 1938 as a duet with Shirley Ross, accompanied by Shep Fields and his orchestra. The fluid nature of the music allowed Hope’s writers to later create variations of the song to fit specific circumstances, such as bidding farewell to troops while on tour. It has been sung by many of the greats over the years, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney, as well as in numerous parodies. When I was in college, my sorority wrote several parody songs and jingles to use during rush, and this was one of them. I sure wish I could remember the words we sang!

Hope performed his first USO show on May 6, 1941, at March Field, California, and continued to travel and entertain troops for the rest of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the third phase of the Lebanon Civil War, the latter years of the Iran–Iraq War, and the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War. Sometimes his wife, Dolores, joined him and once his granddaughter, Miranda, did also. Hope made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991 and was declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress.

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1944

 

Other things I learned:

  • He and Dolores were married in 1934 and they adopted four children.
  • He was very involved with Fight for Sight, a nonprofit organization in the United States which funds medical research in vision and ophthalmology.
  • “Thanks for the Memory” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
  • Hope was an investor/part owner of the Cleveland Indians.
  • Hope died of pneumonia at his home, two months after his 100th birthday.

Here are the original lyrics to “Thanks for the Memory”

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse
Nothing in my purse
And chuckles
When the preacher said
For better or for worse
How lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert’s Serenade
Little things of jade
And traffic jams
And anagrams
And bills we never paid
How lovely it was

We who could laugh over big things
Were parted by only a slight thing
I wonder if we did the right thing
Oh, well, that’s life, I guess
I love your dress

Thanks for the memory
Of faults that you forgave
Of rainbows on a wave
And stockings in the basin
When a fellow needs a shave
Thank you so much

Thanks for the memory
Of tinkling temple bells
Alma mater yells
And Cuban rum
And towels from
The very best hotels
Oh how lovely it was

Thanks for the memory
Of cushions on the floor
Hash with Dinty Moore
That pair of gay pajamas
That you bought
And never wore

We said goodbye with a highball
Then I got as high as a steeple
But we were intelligent people
No tears, no fuss
Hooray for us

Strictly entre nous
Darling, how are you?
And how are all
Those little dreams
That never did come true?

Awfully glad I met you
Cheerio and toodle-oo
Thank you
Thank you so much
Songwriters: Leo Robin / Ralph Rainger

There are so many versions. Here’s a clip from the movie – some of the words are different from those above.

 

We Are Not Clever

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But Charley doesn’t have our problems. He doesn’t belong to a species clever enough to split the atom but not clever enough to live in peace with itself. He doesn’t even know about race…”

“…I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”

From Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

On the surface this is humorous but within it is full of truth. We are surely not clever enough to live in peace with ourselves.

We forget  Psalm 34:14: Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it.