Tuesday, April 01, 2008

rabbits, rabbits, rabbits (or, April Fool's)

rabbits, rabbits, rabbits; supposedly if that’s the first thing you hear in a month, yr to have a good month; I don’t remember where that came from; do you know?

Here is another side of Groucho.

It’s a dimension of this complex genius that you won’t find anywhere else, and a side of him many people will find surprising. Occasionally you hear admirers of his wit opine that he was probably a cold man, perhaps because wit by itself can be a chilling thing. I can honestly say that even before I got to know him I never shared this impression. Even at the relatively tender age at which I watched “You Bet Your Life” (I caught up with the movies in later life), anyone who didn’t find him funny was off my list; and any witless boob who added, “because he insults people,” received the full blast of my teenage scorn. It seemed clear to me that he was always good-natured and that only those insulated against humor and devoid of perception could take umbrage. [Foreword to Love, Groucho: Letters from Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam, Dick Cavett]
yesterday a book sale downstairs hosted by, I think, the English & Film Studies Department & picked up a copy of Love, Groucho: Letters from Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam (1992). a strange coincidence, considering just how much I was going on about that previous book of letters to my lovely daughter Kate in all of my other letters how many months ago; did you know (from the previous book I have in my apartment currently) that he used to correspond regularly with T.S. Eliot? I think that’s pretty bizarre (but hilarious!); here are 2 notes to his daughter that made me think of mine (keep in mind his daughter Miriam was 11 in 1938);

We’re very glad to know that you’re homesick because if you weren’t we’d feel that you were very happy away from us and this way, we know that you miss us. This is a very selfish viewpoint on our part but parents are frequently selfish, too, like children. [August 3, 1938]

Received your note this morning, from the length of it I wouldn’t dignify it by calling it a letter; all I can gather from it is the feeling that you never want to come home. It’s really not safe to allow a child away from home alone, because they get to realize too quickly that they don’t need their parents. [August 4, 1939]
oh, I told the English Department Grad Students selling the books, this will go nicely with my other book of Groucho letters; I mean, what are the odds? the book is warm, wonderful & hilarious, but somehow, all I can think about are the little notes I used to get in the mail from George Bowering; somehow they have the same voice; what’s that all about? I’ve barely started reading the thing & it’s pretty much all I’ve wanted to do the last day or so, read Groucho Marx letters; is that wrong? what the hell is wrong with me.

Dear Pooch,

As you can well understand, things are a little confused, and will probably remain that way for some time. I’m leaving here and will arrive home on the twenty-eighth. That’ll be two weeks from the day this letter is written. I would rather have come home sooner, but I have to play a benefit, called the Night of Stars, on the twenty-sixth, and will leave the day after. So you see, the whole thing comes out even.

Professionally, my plan is to begin almost immediately with Norman, rewriting our play, and should complete that by the first of January. If I do, I’ll get drunk New Year’s. From then in, my plans are up in the air. I probably won’t do much of anything. Perhaps a few radio shots, if I can get them. If not, you know the usual routine. Duke and the bicycle, Winnie and Frances, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Armstrong and Schroeder. [November 14, 1941]
Before that, I spent a few nights reading the entirety of Alberto Manguel’s The City of Words (Toronto ON: Anansi, 2007) [see my note on such here], the texts from the annual CBC Radio Massey Lecture delivered last fall (I missed the Edmonton version, unfortunately, because I was in Ottawa at the writers festival); thinking a lot about how the world is a creation of language, and perhaps, how Groucho’s letters might fit into that thesis?

strange to think I’ll be home in two months & all of this will be behind me, the opportunities for daily conversation around the department, various lectures I get to attend (one last night & another tonight & another on Friday), the all-day internet & computer, the letter-writing, the paycheque; I’ll have to go back to that thing I called a life; how will I survive? yesterday an hour or two with the song “Lydia” in my head (singing bits of it in my office, wondering just how far the sound travels down said hallway…), the one Groucho Marx used to sing;

oddly enough, when I looked for the lyrics to such online I also found this:

Interestingly, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” was the favorite song of Jim Henson and was sung on the very first episode of ”The Muppet Show.” In addition, it was sung by muppet performers at his funeral.
so very sad; did you see that Muppet Show special/Jim Henson biography they did after Jim died? heartbreaking; they mixed stuff from the Muppet Theatre (the muppets wondering who Jim is/was) with clips of Henson’s biography; at one point the muppets think he’s an accountant, because they realize (Kermit, Fozzie & Gonzo) that he signed their cheques; then a whole bunch of accountant muppets dance through the back of the theatre; only at the end of the show do they all realize that he’s died & then the muppets all cry; its gut-wrenching (I saw it when it was on teevee; wouldn’t mind finding it again);

unfortunately I don’t know the song well enough to sing it proper; I’ll have to find it online first & listen;

I'm tomorrow night reading in Lethbridge; will I see you? Or the following night in Calgary?

related notes: just what was i a fool abt last year?

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