Posts Tagged ‘Thorne Smith’

Turnabout is fair play

February 8, 2013

“Turnabout,” the 1931 novel by Thorne Smith was given a very strong recommendation that sparked a relentless search in used book stores from New York City to Los Angeles.  The story is about the struggles of a married couple who became the victims of an ancient Egyptian god’s practical joke when he magically (as ancient Egyptian gods are permitted to do) switched their minds into the other’s body.

Our quest to find that obscure literary treasure came to an end in Los Angels many moons ago.  The book delivered the expected level of entertainment and in an odd twist of fate that copy of that particular paperback was handed off to the fellow who had given the original recommendation because he wanted to re-read the hilarious antics again.

It turned out that the concept of two fictional characters trading minds had previously been used in an obscure short story, written by A. Conan Doyle, about a student and one of his professors.

The concept of two disparate personalities switching host bodies was used in the Tom Hanks film “Big” which told the tale of a father and young son who experienced that particular transformation.

In a week in which Republicans were castigating a Democratic President for not following the rules of warfare and the Dems were shrugging off the criticism with studied nonchalance in the “I can’t hear you” mode of saying “bugger off,” the entire staff at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarters was coping with a strong attack of déjà vu . . .

President Obama let an opportunity to investigate the possibility that George W. Bush and his posse might have (subjunctive mood) exceeded the bounds of good taste slip away and then when Obama gave his acceptant speech at the Nobel Peace Awards, he sounded a tad bellicose.  Now, the Obama supporters approach the subject of impeachment and charges of war crimes with a very Karl Rove-ish sounding collective voice and the Repubs (does that word mean folks who visit a tavern for the second time in one night?) are snickering with fiendish delight.

Isn’t there an old legal adage that states “Silence Implies Consent!”?

So if Obama was silent about any possible Bush complicity in war crimes (and he was), then, at the very least, the possibility has to be considered that Obama was an accessory after the fact for any (hypothetically speaking) Bush War Crimes.

The German High Command in WWII went to great lengths to insure that the citizens of their country didn’t know what was happening and thus they had a legitimate claim to say to the members of the various allied armies that occupied Germany after the war was over that the average German in the streets didn’t know what was being done in their name by their leaders.

George W. Bush made goddamn sure that his policies were reported by America’s Free Press and thus insured that sooner or later Americans would be accessories before, during, and after the fact to his dirty deeds, if, indeed, there were any.

How many conservatives completely ignored the precepts contained in Robert Jackson’s opening statement at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and cried;  “He (Bush) didn’t know that there was no WMD’s!”?  More than a few.

Any debate, at this point, over which Party’s guy did or did not commit war crimes is an exercise in futility.

The War Crimes Studies Center operates on the University of California Berkeley campus and since they haven’t made any headlines about launching an investigation into the possibility of any Bush war crimes, that aught to settle the question once and for all.

By a remarkable coincidence, John Yoo, who led the team of legal advisors that George W. Bush used to insure that he never, either deliberately or accidentally, did anything which might arouse suspicions of potential War Crimes, works on that same campus and perhaps the War Crimes Study Center could invite Yu to be a guest lecturer who would be able to suggest to other countries what effective measures could be used to insure that their leaders would never commit a War Crime.  Isn’t preventing War Crimes as the Yoo team did, just as important as studying other countries’ War Crimes?

On Thursday February 7, 2012, Senator Diane Feinstein explained to excitable, gullible political activists that their concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes are based on only seven or eight fatalities and that efforts to allay their fears and rectify their gross misperception, based on a regrettable clerical error, should be made.

The fact that the Dems now sound like Bush supporters and the Repubs sound like some old Berkeley peaceniks, might appeal to some people with a connoisseur’s appreciation for irony (Isn’t the dictionary definition of irony:  saying the exact opposite of what you mean?  Don’t many people often incorrectly use that word [irony] when they mean poignancy?).

The cavalcade of confusion this week on talk radio is what brought the old literary gem, Thorne Smith’s “Turnabout,” to mind this week.

Many of Smith’s comic novels were turned into classic movie comedies and later TV series.  His novel “Topper,” became a hit movie for MGM in 1937 (with Cary Grant as the ghost George Kirby) and later a popular TV series in the Fifties.  Smith’s “The Passionate Witch” ultimately became the 1942 hit movie “I Married a Witch” and subsequently that morphed into the TV series “Bewitched.”

Smith’s novel “The Bishop’s Jaegers,” which told a story about a rich geek accompanied by his adventurous secretary and recounts their reactions when they land in a nudist camp.  It was ahead of its time when it was published in 1932.  Apparently it is still a little too edgy to be adapted into a film script today.

The acquisitions librarian at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarter’s tried for twenty years to acquire a copy of “The Bishop’s Jaegers.”  At one point he balked at the chance to purchase a collector’s hard back edition for a hundred bucks.  Ultimately, at a used bookstore on Wilshire Blvd., in Santa Monica, he stumbled across a used paper back in the bargain bin for a dime.

Isn’t it rather poignant to note that Germans are not afraid of nudity but they are ashamed of their country’s participation in war crimes while Americans are terrorized by the concept of a nudist camp but are completely unfazed by the remote possibility of any hypothetical involvement in War Crimes.

At this point, some of this columnist’s faithful readers might expect this column to segue into a column’s end quote using Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s final words, but that, like a War Crimes trial for an American leader, aint’ gonna happen.

In an opinion piece titled “Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” published in the New York Times on January 1, 1974, Hunter S. Thompson predicted:  “ . . . an American invasion, seizure and terminal occupation of all oil-producing countries in the Middle East.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Age of Aquarius,” “Springtime for Hitler,” and Randy Newman’s “Let’s Drop the Big One Now!”  We have to go dig up a new wedge issue.  Have a “no foul, no harm” type week.


Prudes battle full body scans

January 13, 2010

While visiting Paris in 1986, in an effort to become fully immersed in contemporary French culture, this columnist decided to rely on his anemic ability to speak and understand the French language to go to a movie there. 

The two leading contenders were “Betty Blue” and “<a href =>Descend Aux Enfers</a>.”  The latter was chosen and the selection turned out to be a bit of serendipity luck.  When we got back to the USA we saw Blue in Los Angeles, two weeks later.  Descent en Enfers had gained some notoriety in the Paris newspapers because an ingenue actress’ first nude scene was one of that film’s cultural milestones.  It, to the best of my knowledge, never was released in the USA. 

To the French it was no big deal for a young actress to play a scene nude.  Did or didn’t America get all riled up over some photos of Miley Sirus, a short time ago?

Americans will criticize Middle East countries for requiring women to wear burkas, but then when they are in Australia, they will be shocked by women who go topless at the beach.  (Go figure.)  A member of the American military recently caused a ruckus by sending a letter to the editor of an Australian newspaper complaining about the scanty attire Aussie women wear (at the beach?).  That American, apparently, did not make any suggestions mentioning donning a burka.

Americans are terrified by the prospect that a bad guy will smuggle explosives aboard an airplane and yet they are more traumatized by the full body scan technology.  If questioned, Americans will titter (“He said ‘titter,’ Beavis!”) when considering this question:  What if the answer to airline security is nude check-in at the point of departure?


Americans are adamant that such a scandalous suggestion should not be taken seriously.  Hence it is litteraly true when prudes say:  “I’d rather die than let a stranger see me naked.”

Jay Leno can talk about it, but heavens forfend, if Keith Olbermann should offer that solution, America would freak out like an Arab seeing a woman’s face.  We understand that the burka update to their other, older religious beliefs was added during the 19th Century. 

Given a hard binary choice:  nude check-in or terrorist incident, which would Americans choose?  Obviously the Republican defenders of Christian family values would do everything in their power to avoid being ambushed by any direct answer to that question.  (“Yes or no?  Don’t wait for the translation, answer the question!”) “Look!  Look!  The Hindenburg!  Uh, what were we discussing?”

Thorne Smith, who died on June 21, 1934, wrote many novels that were very imaginative and made into hit movies and/or popular TV series, but his one novel, “The Bishop’s Jaeggers,” is still way to risqué and ahead of its time, to be made into a movie aimed at the prudish American public. 

Wasn’t Luis Andrew Martinez called “The Naked Guy” at UCB?

General McCafrey <a href => is getting little notice</a>; (UPI did carry the story) for making a prediction that casualties in Afghanistan are going to increase dramatically.  The repercussions of spending a great deal more money to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan should be prompting debates about spending priorities (Metaphorically speaking can a country “max out” its credit card?).  So body scans might (possibly) be used as clever diversionary tactic for the politicians to promote outrage rather than to turn attention to the important issues and, as W. C. Fields would have put it, grab the bull by the tail and face the situation.

There are seven million topics available on the Internet; this has been one of them.

TV’s Laugh In’s Artie Johnson got lots of laughs by asking the question:  “Wanna see my Walmetto ?

Now, the disk jockey will play Ray Steven’s song “The Streak,” Peter and Gordon’s “Lady Godiva,” Maryann Faithful’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan”  the Hombres’ “Let it all hang out,” and the 1969 version of “Running Bare” done by Sonny James.   Well, it’s time for us to go try to see if we can get a press pass to cover this year’s “Nudestock” music festival (running through the shady streets screaming all the way?).  Have a “ . . . or do you just like me?” (ask a Mae West fan) type week.