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By Jim Sizemore
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The “Hip Shots” series of photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly,” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise is to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method the more frames exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting — a related series that may be arranged as a post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own images, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below.
Copyright © 2013 Jim Sizemore.
Warren and Me
By Bob Fleishman
Walking up Madison Avenue in November of 1972, I spied what had to be two of the so-called “beautiful people” one often sees in New York City, standing on the corner just outside Georgio Armani’s. Both were wearing full-length fur coats and were disengaging themselves from what appeared to be a prolonged clinch. The woman could have just stepped out of a Vogue Magazine ad — beautifully coiffured black hair, perfectly formed features and bright red lipstick. The man also had beautifully coiffured black hair and perfectly formed features, but no lipstick.
It was Warren Beatty!
Stunned at first by coming upon such a sight, I quickly recovered and, not wanting to interfere with the couple’s sad parting, I continued toward my destination some blocks away. While waiting for the light to change at Madison Avenue and 58th streets, I happened to glance at the gentleman standing beside me. That’s right, once again it was Warren himself.
I realized that since this was just before the Presidential Election of 1972, and I was a supporter of the Democratic nominee, I had to say something to this Hollywood Idol who was known for his intense political involvement. To my own surprise, considering how excited I was, I came up with something timely — and I thought, rather clever. “Where’s your McGovern button?” I said, proudly pointing to the round plastic McGovern badge featured prominently on my comparatively drab brown jacket. “Right here,” he quickly responded, opening his fur coat to reveal a solid gold McGovern button. Feeling that I was on a roll and could do no wrong, I came back just as fast, if not as strong. “That’s quite impressive,” I said. “You got me there.”
The light still hadn’t changed, so I gave it another shot. “I saw you on the Dick Cavett show last week. I thought you handled his questions very well.” (Cavett, the host of a popular TV talk show, had tried to pursue Beatty’s love life while Warren was attempting to steer the conversation to the issues of the campaign). The light finally turned green, and I expected Warren to just mumble something like “Thank you very much” or another glib response and move on. But much to my surprise, he said, “Oh, really! Well, I didn’t think I did well at all. He just wouldn’t let me talk about what was important”
Incredibly, our talk about the campaign continued for another four or five blocks. But soon, because I had initiated the encounter, I felt compelled to be the one to end it. I picked my spot and said, “It was great chatting with you. Then — rather lamely I now think — my hoped-for big ending came out as, “Keep the faith!” Warren just nodded and smiled that mysterious smile of non-commitment that made women all over the world swoon. “Nice meeting you,” he replied, and was gone.
In my daze during the experience I had actually walked three blocks farther than intended, so engrossed in our conversation that I never noticed. And for the last forty-plus years, I’ve tried to think of a better punch line with which to end a conversation with Warren Beatty — just in case I do run into him again. Recently, in one of my daydreams, I’m at some social function and, sure enough, there he is across the crowded room. I saunter over and say, “So, Mr. B, we meet again!!!”
Copyright © 2013 Bob Fleishman.
Bob Fleishman is a retired General Dentist who is using his newly found extra time in more creative pursuits. He has written two plays, The Man Who Makes You Laugh and The Session and is currently writing a book about growing up in his old neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore. In addition, he is a professional videographer currently working on a film for Baltimore City College’s 175th Anniversary.
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The Genius of Paul Rhymer
I wrote The following essay about Paul Rhymer’s classic radio program “Vic and Sade” on April 20, 1995, to promote a talk I gave at the University of Baltimore. The program featured actors reading from Vic and Sade scripts. If you want to know more about the work of Paul Rhymer, or listen to one of the taped shows, click on the “Paul Rhymer” and “Vic and Sade” links in the sidebar. (For a start I recommend the show “A Letter From Aunt Bess.”)
Paul Rhymer’s knack for writing dialogue is nowhere more evident than when a character delivers a telephone monologue. Sometimes it’s Vic on the phone curtly dealing with a salesperson or a wrong number, or Rush gabbing with Bluetooth Johnson, Nicer Scott, or another of his buddies from the neighborhood. Most often, though, the telephone monologue falls to Sade when she’s home alone taking a break from her domestic duties. The monologue I’ve chosen as representative is from an undated script, most likely from the early 1940s, since Sade’s amiable Uncle Fletcher is featured. Uncle Fletcher joined the show as an on-mike character around that time, and here makes one of his slapstick entrances. When he enters, in the company of Rush, Sade’s telephone monologue, or “solo,” is transformed into a trio. Actually it’s a quartet if you count “Ruthie,” on the other end of the telephone line.
ANNOUNCER: Well, sir, it’s early afternoon as we enter the small house half-way up in the next block now, and here in the living room we find Mr. Victor Gook all by herself. Mrs. Gook is at the telephone conversing with her close friend and confidante Mrs. Frederick Stembottom. Listen:
SADE (to phone): I didn’t take you away from anything, did I, lady? Well, ish, I haven’t really got anything to say now that I’ve called you. (giggles) Yes . . . well, what happened I went like a house a-fire all morning long and done nine million jobs around the house and then got dinner and pitched in on my upstairs the minute the boys left for the office an’ school, and finally did quit and wash and put on a clean apron and then discovered I’d been on the go so much I couldn’t settle down. (laughs) You know how that is lady. Person gets theirself all keyed up and they hafta slow down gradual or the boiler explodes. (laughs) Yes . . . so I telephoned you. Hey, maybe that’s not very complimentary. (loud lady laugh) No, but you appreciate how I mean, Ruthie. Sure. Yes, isn’t it a quiet afternoon. One of them hushedy-hushedy afternoons where a person sits and listens to pins dropping. Little bit ago I was out on the back porch shaking my mop and ‘way off in the distance somewhere I heard some fella say giddap to his horse and I bet twenty-five cents he was clear away over on Chestnut Street and that’s eight hundred miles from here if it’s an inch. Yeah . . . you run inta real still afternoons every so often. Like Sunday kinda. I was sayin’ to . . . say, lady, hang on a second, I think I heard my kitchen door. (calls) Hello? Groceries? You, Irving?
RUSH (off): Hi, Mom.
FLETCHER (off): Afternoon, Sadie honey.
SADE (calls, in some surprise): Well—hello. (to phone) Uncle Fletcher and Rush just walked in, Ruthie. I can’t imagine what Rush’s doing home from school. (crash in the kitchen) Oh, my goodness. (calls) What happened?
FLETCHER (cheerfully, off) Fell down.
SADE (calls sharply) Who fell down?
RUSH (off, cheerfully): We both fell down.
SADE (not loud): Oh, for mercy’s sake. (to phone) What, Ruthie? No, we don’t need to hang up. There’s no reason why we hafta cut our conversation short just because . . . huh?
RUSH (approaching): Uncle Fletcher tripped on his shoelace, Mom.
FLETCHER (approaching, cheerfully): No broken bones, Sadie, Honey, no broken bones.
SADE (to phone): Well whatever you say, lady. Seems like a shame though. I take you away from whatever you’re doing and just because my family busts in we hafta cut short our . . . (giggles) . . . well, ish.
RUSH (coming up): Principal called a special teachers’ meeting, Mom.
FLETCHER (coming up): Using the telephone, are you, Sadie?
SADE (to phone) No, you needn’t bother to call back, Ruthie.
FLETCHER (gently): Mama’s using the telephone, Rush. I’d stop my titters, whimpers, and guffaws.
RUSH (amused): O. K.
FLETCHER (sententiously) When the older folks is using the telephone it’s always best to let up on the titters, whimpers and guffaws.
RUSH (chuckling): I’m letting up on ‘em.
FLETCHER: You’re a good boy.
SADE (to phone): Well, all righty, Ruthie, whatever you say. Dandy. Fine.
FLETCHER (to Rush, sententiously) There was a little boy in Detroit Michigan neglected to let up on his titters, whimpers and guffaws while Momma was using the telephone and he disappeared and all they ever found was one of his tiny patent leather booties, the tassel singed at the bottom.
RUSH (chuckles): I’ll remember that.
FLETCHER (gently): Yes—it teaches us a lesson.
SADE (to phone): All righty then, Ruthie lady, we’ll leave it like that. You bet. All righty, Ruthie. You betty, lady. Goodbye. (hangs up)
The Last Word
Even before Uncle Fletcher and Rush enter in this example, Sade’s monologue—through Rhymer’s word choices and emphasis, including pauses, giggles and laughs—becomes a dialogue. It really is a solo, of course, but written so skillfully that we can almost hear her duet with Ruthie on the other end of the line. Rhymer, by his example—assuming we’re interested enough to pay attention—is teaching us how to write humorous dialogue even when what he presents appears, at first, to be a monologue. As with the example above, all his lessons are subtle. If we want what he has to teach us, we have to dig it out. After all, Rhymer’s purpose in “Vic and Sade” is not to conduct a writing craft class, he simply want’s to entertain us. But sometimes it does seem that he also intends to instruct us directly, as in the following excerpt from a 1939 script. As we join the Gook family this time, Sade is explaining to Vic that she has been asked by Mr. Gumpox, the garbage man, to circulate a petition in the neighborhood. Seems he’s unhappy with his rate of pay and will consider staying on the job only if Sade can get six hundred signatures, which he assumes will influence the city to give him a raise. (Click on image above to read the caption.)
SADE: Let’s see. I think I can remember most of that petition. “We, the undersigned, being in sane mind an’ sound body, do hereby command, request, an’ implore that Francis Gumpox be retained by the city. As homeowners with a passionate love for a beautiful town in which to live we feel that this community could never stand to lose the services of Francis Gumpox, who knows and loves garbage like no other man on earth.”
VIC (laughs): Oh, for gosh sakes, does that guy . . .
SADE: Wait a second, I left out a word. “Who knows and loves garbage disposal like no other man on earth.”
VIC (chuckles): Thunder.
SADE (giggles): The other word sounds funny . . . “knows an’ loves garbage like no other man on earth.”
VIC (chuckles): It all sounds funny.
© 2013 Jim Sizemore
This is an edited re-post from July 14, 2008