Tuesday, 12 June 2012

S.J. Perelman, Pt. 5

"For Goddness' sake, has everybody gone stark, staring Wang?" -- for Kyle

"Then he forgot all about it, except to lie awake three nights and stay indoors waiting for the telephone to ring" (haven't we all been there?)

"In a few badly chosen words, the producer explained his predicament . . . 'I'll tell you the meat of the story .. . Its got plenty of spontinuity when you maul it over in your mind, only just this one little thing you got to figure out'"

"When I was growing up in New Guinea, or coming of age in Samoa, or whatever the hell I was doing about the age of thirteen. . ."

"At ten o'clock this morning, fortified with a bottle of Benzedrine and a stoup of black coffee, I kissed my newsdealer good-bye and set out to read through the Christmas-party suggestions in Mademoiselle, Vogue, and House & Garden. "

" 'Dip tips of twisted cotton strips into India ink and trim your tree entirely with 'ermine tails'' he orders. 'Pin a fresh mauve orchid to the treetop.' Arresting as the effect might be, the actual execution seems a bit less simple. 'Well, what do we do next?' I can hear a Mr. Kapustin asking his wife as he finishes tacking up the last holly wreath. Mrs. Kapustin peers uncertainly at her copy of Mademoiselle. ''Tip dips of twisted crotton sips'--' she begins. 'No, wait a minute. 'Sip dips of cristed totton tips--'' Obviously, such an enterprise can only end in disaster. Either Mr. Kapustin, who is extremely short tempered, snatches the magazine from his wife, provoking a free-for-all, or the dawn discloses two pallid house-holders on the verge of a breakdown, mumbling, 'Dip, dip, dip'. "

Perelman shows another example of clairvoyance when he outlines a skit, in which brand names are constantly dropped. He calls this a "blueprint for a new department-store dramaturgy", which has certainly come to pass in the form of inescapable product placements on the big screen now.

"Available in nineteen different shades -- among them wine, russet, beige, peach, grackle, stone, liver, lover, blubber, blabber and clabber." 

"In pulp fiction, it is a rigid convention that the hero's shoulders and the heroine's balcon constantly  threatens to burst their bonds, a possibility which keeps the audience in a state of tense expectancy."

And, ending the book, words from the introduction:

"Like Attila's horse, of whom it was said that grass would never grow again where once it trod, Perelman leaves behind him a spoor of crushed and bleeding prose  that will never flower again. A plague on all his Grouses!"

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