Thursday, April 13, 2006

Give Me Liberty or Give a Sucker an Even Break

When history gives you lemons, make a blog entry is what I always say, or at least what I've been saying since the beginning of typing this little spiel.* April 14 has more or less rained lemons on history, and that has aided no one fond of wise presidents or unsinkable ships, let alone any tax payer penultimately procrastinating.

You just can't make fun of paying taxes, especially with the rumor that Tom DeLay, currently indicted for money laundering and ripping off people to move legislation, might get a new job in the Office of Management and Budget, an idea funnier and crueler than any I've ever devised. Making fun of the Titanic is passe, too, since there's that joke of a film by James Cameron (three words: Billy In Zane).

So I'm left trying to make fun of Lincoln's assassination. And let me say right off, we're not laughing at the president, we're laughing with him. Sorry about the blood, sir.

As you might know if you're a Sarah Vowell reader or otherwise a devotee of the creepiest parts of history (that is if I can tear you away from the 100th year anniversary coverage of the SF earthquake/fire), Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre watching the play Our American Cousin. The exact line that John Wilkes Booth, an actor who plays an assassin in history, chose to fire at was this: "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap."

Seems that was a laugh line in 1865, although today we'd all be sad thinking that Lincoln's last thought before the bullet hit him would have been, "What in the Shari Lewis? Sock-doll-what?" Not the way anyone would choose to go, if better than poor Elvis.

At least Our American Cousin left us Lord Dundreary. Beyond his own brand of muttonchops (and who wouldn't want to be immortalized as a bad coiffure choice?) there are Dundrearyisms, his mangling of aphorisms into things like "birds of a feather gather no moss." So let's decide if a stitch in time saves one in the bush or whether we have met the enemy and he is bigger than your stomach.

Not that I want to sockdologize you into anything.

*This postmodern moment brought to you by the People for Self-reflexitivity People, Barth & Barthelme Co-Chairs


Anonymous Greg said...

It's Barthes.

10:05 AM  
Blogger George said...

No, that's Roland, I meant John Barth, famous for his po-mo fiction.

10:33 AM  

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