Friday, September 30, 2011

Assailing the Tender Age: Waging Ghostly War on a National Level

As Christmas 1990 approached, University of Oregon psyche professor Dr. Jennifer Freyd grew increasingly nervous.*  Sure, some people find the holidays particularly stressful (myself included).  But there seemed more to it, in her opinion.

A married mother of  two, Jennifer didn’t reveal the source of this anxiety to her family;  then again, she didn’t even know herself.  She also didn’t tell her parents: Dr. Pamela Freyd, a veteran schoolteacher; and Dr. Peter Freyd, a highly accomplished and respected mathematics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  According to Pamela, she and Jennifer were planning the usual “conspiratorial coast-to-coast phone calls about secrets for presents….”  The parents made their final preparations to fly from Philadelphia to the West Coast on December 21.  In all, it sounded to everyone involved as if they could anticipate a normal, happy, festive Noel.

That is, to everyone except Jennifer.   Although she wouldn’t talk to her family, she would talk to a fellow shrink.  The first visit with this individual didn’t produce anything Earth-shattering.  As a psychologist herself, Dr. Freyd would have probably expected that.  After all, psychotherapy/psychoanalysis often takes quite a while--sometimes decades--to produce noticeably dramatic results.

Dr. Freyd, as it turned out, wouldn’t have to wait that long.  On her second visit, the shrink asked if anyone had sexually abused her as a child.  She gave the doctor a curt and decisive “no,” and they moved on to something else.

That night, she had intense flashbacks of male genitalia.  The anxiety that she experienced the previous weeks kicked into high gear, and continued to crescendo until her parents arrived two days later.   

According to her mother, Jennifer and her husband greeted them at the airport with hugs and kisses, just as they had done the previous six times mama and papa Freyd visited their daughter for Christmas.  Pamela didn’t foresee the eruption about to take place, but in hindsight she related a couple of things that she found odd in retrospect: (1) Jennifer looked considerably thinner than normal, and (2) she cooked chicken, liver and rice for dinner.** 

While eating their chicken and liver, Peter made a crude joke about lesbians using turkey basters to impregnate themselves.  He then went on and on about it in front of Jennifer’s two young children.  Apparently, Pamela saw nothing inappropriate about the comment in that setting and context. 

Apparently, Jennifer saw something else.  The anxiety that she had felt for so long gave way to absolute terror.  

____________________
*Information here about the Freyd story came from a number of sources, but chiefly from a 1995 essay, “Marshalling the Media” by Katy Butler, “Crisis or Creation? A Systematic Examination of “False Memory .Syndrome” in the 2002 book Misinformation Concerning Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Survivors (ed. Drs. Charles Whitfield, Joyanna Silberg, and Paul Fink) by Stephanie Dallam, Barbara Rogers’ 2006 post “The War against the Child’s and the Victim’s Credibility and Truth,” and a 1991 paper titled “How Could This Happen?  Coping with a False Accusation of Incest and Rape” (first published in vol. 3, n. 3 in Issues in Child Abuse Accusations, ed. Hollida Wakefield) by Dr. Pamela Freyd (as Jane Doe). 

**Pamela explained this was “a bit out of pattern.”   Jennifer usually made her mother’s favorite meals when her parents visited.  But Pamela specifically hates liver, no matter how it’s cooked.  As for the chicken, Jennifer knew that her father’s favorite piece was the breast--but she gave all of those to other family members, leaving him with other pieces.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Assailing the Tender Age: The War of the Ghosts

This is a different kind of game. 

Okay, maybe not a game.  Not an experiment, either.  Rather, it's a demonstration of something that will be coming up later on The X-Spot. 

If you care to indulge me, do the following:  (1) Read the below story twice, and then don't look at it again; (2) using a word processor program, write down the story in your own words; and (3) then cut and paste your response into the comment box on Blogger.
One night two young men from Egulac went down to the river to hunt seals and while they were there it became foggy and calm. Then they heard war cries, and they thought: “Maybe this is a war party.”

They escaped to the shore, and hid behind a log. Now canoes came up, and they heard the noise of paddles, and saw one canoe coming up to them. There were five men in the canoe, and they said: ‘What do you think? We wish to take you along. We are going up the river to make war on the people.’
One of the young men said, ‘I have no arrows.’

‘Arrows are in the canoe,’ they said.

‘I will not go along. I might be killed. My relatives do not know where I have gone. But you,’ he said, turning to the other, ‘may go with them.’

So one of the young men went, but the other returned home.

And the warriors went on up the river to a town on the other side of Kalama. The people came down to the water and they began to fight, and many were killed. But presently the young man heard one of the warriors say, ‘Quick, let us go home: that Indian has been hit.’ Now he thought: ‘Oh, they are ghosts.’ He did not feel sick, but they said he had been shot.

So the canoes went back to Egulac and the young man went ashore to his house and made a fire. And he told everybody and said: ‘Behold I accompanied the ghosts, and we went to fight. Many of our fellows were killed, and many of those who attacked us were killed. They said I was hit, and I did not feel sick.’

He told it all, and then he became quiet. When the sun rose he fell down. Something black came out of his mouth. His face became contorted. The people jumped up and cried.

He was dead.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss This Mondegreen (Answers)

1. "Old Theresa Brown/And this guy is gray."
Song:  “California Dreaming.”  Singer(s):  Cass Elliot, Denny Doherty, John and Michelle Phillips, or The Mamas and the Papas (Answered by Foam).  Correct lyrics:  “All the leaves are brown/And the sky is gray” (Partially answered by Foam).


2.  "A weakling weighing ninety-eight pounds/Will get sand in his face when kicked to the groin."
Song:  “I Can Make You a Man” (Answered by Dale).  Singer(s):  Rocky Horror Picture Show Original Cast, Dr. Frankenfurter, or Tim Curry (Answered by Dale).  Correct lyrics:  “A weakling weighing ninety-eight pounds/Will get sand in his face when kicked to the ground” (Answered by Dale).

Of course, with Tim Curry’s annunciation, that last word really sounds more like ‘groin’ than ‘ground.’


3.  "Blue eye, blue eye/No, no, no, no/I said, ‘A wig and a comb.’"
Song:  “Louie, Louie.”  Singer(s):  The Kingsmen, or Jack Ely.  Correct lyrics:  “Louie, Louie/No, no, no, no/I said, ‘We gotta go.’”

The song’s composer, Richard Berry, originally recorded “Louie, Louie” in 1957 with his band, the Pharaohs, and released it without incident as the b-side to the song “Rock, Rock, Rock.”  This tune, about a Jamaican sailor pining for his girlfriend back home, didn’t do well nationally or internationally, but developed a cult following in the Seattle scene of the late-1950s and early-1960s.  Many local rock bands included it as a must in their repertoires, and recorded numerous versions of it long before the Kingsmen committed it to vinyl in 1963.  The Kingsmen’s version, however, struck a nerve.  Its garbled lyrics gave it a mystique.  Rock fans and anti-rock activists outside of Seattle, unfamiliar as they were with "Louie, Louie," tried to decode it for lewd hidden meanings.

The unintelligible singing resulted accidentally from a number of factors.  First off, lead singer Jack Ely had blown his voice out the night before during a ninety-minute “Louie, Louie” jam session.  What’s worse, the studio where they recorded it mounted it’s vocal mike on the wall in a fixed position approximately a foot over Ely’s head.  So he had to stand on his toes and shout the lyrics so that they could be heard at all.  Ely was also under the impression that they were rehearsing the song, and didn’t realize that this would constitute the final take until they finished.  Moreover, Ely had to sing through all of this while wearing braces, which inhibited him from articulating clearly under those circumstances.

I got the idea for this particular question from these guys .  Check it out if you need a good laugh.

4.  "Has to, Edward’s side for Mitch/Den singer itch, I in lead for dish."
Song: “99 Luftballoons.“  Singer(s):  Nena, or Nena Hagen (Gabrielle Kerner--Answered by Foam).  Correct lyrics:  “Hast du etwas zeit für mich?/Dann singe ich ein lied für dich [Got some time for me?/Then I’ll sing you a song]” (Answered by Foam).

In case you never knew, this anti-war song is about using the UFO scare as an excuse for militarization--thus making it right at home on Der X-Punkt, I mean The X-Spot.

5.  "Midsummer’s day/Midsummer’s day."
Song:  “It’s a Mistake.”  Singer(s):  Men at Work, or Colin Hay.  Correct lyrics: “It’s a mistake/It’s a mistake.”

While on a road trip with my college sweetheart and her family, this song came on the radio, and her mother, singing along, actually perceived these as the lyrics.  No, we didn’t tell her.

6.  "Let’s get enemas, enemas/I wanna get enemas/Let’s get, uh, enemas."
Song:  “Let’s Get Physical” (First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Foam).  Singer:  Olivia Newton-John. (Answered by Eric1313).  Correct Lyrics “Let’s get animal, animal/I wanna get animal/Let’s get into animal.”

The first time I heard this song, I could swear this is what she was singing--which kinda made sense because in the previous chorus I thought she said, “Let’s get physicals, physicals….”  I thought the song was about going to the doctor, or playing doctor, or something.

7. "Old children/Is just a shadow way/It’s just a shadow way."
Song:  “Gimmie Shelter” (Answered by Dale)  Singer(s):  The Rolling Stones, or Mick Jagger (First answered by Foam.  Independently answered by Dale).  Correct lyrics:  “War, Children/It’s just a shot away/It’s just a shot away” (First answered by Dale.  Partially answered by Foam.)

8.  "I could be Jason/But my dime would be wasting/They got nothing on Hugh."
Song:  “Nothin’ on You.”  Singer(s):  B.o.B. (Bobby Simmons, Jr, the credited solo artist) or Bruno Mars (Peter Hernandez, the actual singer of this passage).  Correct lyrics:  “I could be chasing/But my time would be wasted/They got nothin’ on you.”

9.  "It’s bound to take your life/There’s a bathroom on the right."
Song:  “Bad Moon Rising” (First answered by Charles.  Partially answered by Eric1313 and Ray)  Singer(s):  Creedence Clearwater Revival, or John Fogarty (First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Charles).  Correct lyrics:  “It’s bound to take your life/There’s a bad moon on the rise” (Answered by Eric1313).

10.  "Here we are now/In containers."
Song:  “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Answered by Dale).  Singer(s):  Nirvana, or Kurt Cobain (Answered by Dale).  Correct lyrics:  “Here we are now/Entertain us” (Answered by Dale).

11.  "Ha, ha, ha, ha/Steak and a knife/Steak and a knife."
Song:  “Stayin’ Alive” (Answered by Dale).  Singer(s):  The Bee Gees, or Barry, Maurice or Robin Gibb (Answered by Dale).  Correct lyrics:  “Ah, ha, ha, ha/Stayin’ alive/Stayin’ alive” (Mostly answered by Dale).

12.  "You see the sky?/The sky’s in love with you."
Song:  “This Guy’s in Love with You.”  Singer:  Herb Alpert.  Correct lyrics:  “You see this guy?/This guy’s in love with you.”

Primarily known as a trumpet player and record executive, this was a rare occurrence of Alpert actually singing.  The song was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who wrote a number of hits for Dionne Warwick.  Warwick also recorded this song as “This Girl’s in Love with You.”

13.  "A frank zapper and the mother/Were at the best place around."
Song:  “Smoke on the Water” (Answered by Charles)  Singer(s):  Deep Purple, or Ian Gillan (Answered by Charles).  Correct lyrics:  “But Frank Zappa and the Mothers/Were at the best place around.”

“The Mothers” refers to Zappa’s band, the Mothers of Invention.  The song itself chronicles the events of the 1971 Montreux Casino fire.  Zappa was onstage when the fire started, while the Deep Purple were preparing for a recording session nearby.

BTW, if you care to see more stick figure animation.

14,  "A fine little bitch, she waits for me/She gets her kicks on top of me/Each night I take her out all alone/She ain’t the kind I lay at home."
Song:  “Louie, Louie.”  Singer(s):  The Kingsmen, or Jack Ely.  Correct lyrics:  “A fine little girl, she waits for me/Me catch a ship across the sea/I sailed the ship all alone/I never think I’ll make it home.”

On The X-Spot, you’ve often seen me refer to items in a subject’s FBI file.  “Louie, Louie” was a song that had it’s own FBI file, filled with speculation by anti-rock activists and clueless parents about the lyrics.  The above represent an mishmash of these mishearings.

Figure 1.  Suspected “Louie, Louie” lyrics investigated by the FBI.
15.  "Lawrence of Arabia, British in Romania/Oldness, John Glen, Mr. Peeps, Allison."
Song:  “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (Answered by Eric1313).  Singer:  Billy Joel.  Correct lyrics:  “Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania/Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson.”

16.  "Just wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims/And strap your hands ‘cross my inches."
Song:  “Born to Run” (First answered by Eric1313. Independently answered by Ray and Charles).  Singer:  Bruce Springsteen (First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Ray and Charles). Correct lyrics:  “Just wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims/And strap your hands ‘cross my engines” (Answered by Ray).

The first time I moved to New Jersey, someone told me a rumor about a bill floating around the state legislature to make “Born to Run” the official state rock song (or official song).  That made sense to me.  After all, Springsteen’s a native son.  Moreover, the song contains one of the most accurate descriptions of New Jersey I’ve ever heard:
It’s a deathtrap!
It’s a suicide rap!
We gotta get out while we’re young!

17.  "He mass production, he got walrus gumbo/He got Ono cycle, he one spinal cracker."
Song:  “Come Together” (First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Ray and Charles).  Singer(s):  The Beatles, or John Lennon, or Paul McCartney (First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Ray, Charles and Dale). Correct lyrics:  “He bag production, he got walrus gumboot/He got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker.”

This is a case where the misheard lyrics make about as much sense as the real ones.

18.  "Kitschy, Kitschy, ja, ja, Dada/Kitschy, Kitschy, ja, ja, here/Mocha choker latte, ja, ja."
Song:  “Lady Marmalade” (First answered by Eric1313. Independently answered by Dale.  Hinted at by Foam).  Singer(s):  Labelle, or Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash, or Patti LaBelle (Patricia Holte-Edwards--First answered by Eric1313.  Independently answered by Dale.).  Correct lyrics:  “Gitchi, gitchi, ya, ya, da, da/Gitchi, gitchi, ya, ya, here/Mocca chocalata ya, ya.”

In some respects, you could characterize Labelle as a real-life female version of  Spınal Tap.  They persisted for decades, constantly reinventing themselves to fit new times and subgenres:  from the girl groups of the early-1960s, to glam-rockers, to backup singers for Patti LaBelle’s close friend Laura Nyro, to disco divas, to 1980s synthpoppers. 

19.  "Stood a rain/Cold and damp/Still, the warm wind/Tires friend."
Song:  “Black Hole Sun.”  Singer(s): Soundgarden, or Chris Cornell.  Correct lyrics:  “Stuttering/Cold and damp/Steal the warm wind/Tired friend.”

20.  "To be a true player, you have to know how to play/If she say you’re night, convince her.  Say you’re day."
Song:  “It Wasn’t Me.”  Singer(s):  Shaggy (Orville Burrell, the credited solo artist), or RikRok (Ricardo Ducent, the actual singer of this passage).  Correct lyrics:  “To be a true player, you have to know how to play/If she say you’re not, convince her.  Say you’re gay.”

This song inspired the colloquial term “Shaggy Defence” amongst attorneys.  It refers to denying one’s guilt despite overwhelming and indisputably obvious evidence to the contrary.  AOL Radio blogger Matthew Wilkening ranked “It Wasn’t Me” at #5 in his list of Worst Songs Ever, noting that it was  “… so bad it further corrupted lawyers.”

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Monday, September 19, 2011

‘Scuse Me, While I Kiss This Mondegreen

Our friend Charles recently posted an item on Razored Zen about misheard song lyrics, or ‘mondegreens.’  For example, many people have mistakenly heard Jimi Hendrix singing, “’Scuse me, while I kiss this guy,” when in reality he sang, “”Scuse me, while I kiss the sky,” in the tune “Purple Haze.”

How many below songs can you identify by their misheard lyrics?  Bonus points if you can name the singer (individual or group) and give the correct lyrics.
  1. Old Theresa Brown/And this guy is gray.
  2. A weakling weighing ninety-eight pounds/Will get sand in his face when kicked to the groin.
  3. Blue eye, blue eye/No, no, no, no/I said, ‘A wig and a comb.’
  4. Has to, Edward’s side for Mitch/Den singer itch, I in lead for dish.
  5. Midsummer’s day/Midsummer’s day.
  6. Let’s get enemas, enemas/I wanna get enemas/Let’s get, uh, enemas
  7. Old children/Is just a shadow way/It’s just a shadow way.
  8. I could be Jason/But my dime would be wasting/They got nothing on Hugh.
  9. It’s bound to take your life/There’s a bathroom on the right.
  10. Here we are now/In containers.
  11. Ha, ha, ha, ha/Steak and a knife/Steak and a knife.
  12. You see the sky?/The sky’s in love with you.
  13. A frank zapper and the mother/Were at the best place around.
  14. A fine little bitch, she waits for me/She gets her kicks on top of me/Each night I take her out all alone/She ain’t the kind I lay at home.
  15. Lawrence of Arabia, British in Romania/Oldness, John Glen, Mr. Peeps, Allison.
  16. Just wrap your legs ‘round these velvet rims/And strap your hands ‘cross my inches.
  17. He mass production, he got walrus gumbo/He got Ono cycle, he one spinal cracker.
  18. Kitschy, Kitschy, ja, ja, Dada/Kitschy, Kitschy, ja, ja, here/Mocha choker latte, ja, ja.
  19. Stood a rain/Cold and damp/Still, the warm wind/Tires friend.
  20. To be a true player, you have to know how to play/If she say you’re night, convince her.  Say you’re day.
Click here for the answers.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sons of Minnie (Answers)

1.  What nickname (or nicknames) did not belong to an actual Marx Brother (mark all that apply):  (A) Chico; (B) Dummo; (C) Groucho; (D) Gummo; (E) Harpo; (F) Zeppo?  B, Dummo (Answered originally by Foam, independently by Ray).  The actual Marx Brothers consisted of Leonard “Chico” Marx (1887-1961), Adolph “Harpo” Marx (1888-1964), Julius “Groucho” Marx (1890-1977), Milton “Gummo” Marx (1892-1977), and Herbert “Zeppo” Marx (1902-1979).  A sixth Marx brother, Manfred, died in infancy in 1885.

Gummo was part of the original Marx Brothers vaudeville act, but was drafted into WWI.  The brothers then replaced him with Zeppo.  After his Army service, Gummo decided he no longer wanted to work onstage, so he became an artist manager instead.  His clients included a number of writers (for radio, television and the movies), and his brother, Groucho.  Gummo passed away shortly before Groucho.  Because the latter’s health was so precarious at that time, family and friends never told Groucho of his brother’s passing.  They were afraid that the bad news would kill him.

Zeppo appeared in the four movies the Marx Brothers did for Paramount.  Despite its critical acclaim, their fourth movie, Duck Soup, was a box office disappointment in its initial run.  So Paramount fired them, and they were without a contract for a year.  When MGM picked them up in 1935, they pressured the brothers to let Zeppo go, since, as the straight man, he had no distinct comedic persona, as did the others.  Groucho would later tell interviewers that he discovered just how valuable Zeppo was when, in subsequent movies, producers kept casting for the kinds of characters he played.  Because he could impersonate all of his brothers, Zeppo sometimes appeared uncredited as a stand-in for them.

2.  In the movie Horse Feathers, what does Harpo pull out of his pocket and give to a homeless man who asks him for change?  You’re just gonna have to watch this scene to find the answer.

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3.  How does the movie Animal Crackers end:  (A) Chico steals a painting that he thinks is a masterpiece, but is in fact a forgery; (B) Groucho marries lovebirds Arabella Rittenhouse and John Parker; (C) Harpo slays nearly the entire cast, and then commits suicide; (D) Zeppo woos Arabella Rittenhouse away from John Parker, and the other brothers help the pair elope?  C. Leave it to the Marx Brothers to make mass murder/suicide funny.  When threatened with arrest by a surly cop, Harpo sprays him with a deadly insecticide, which he then turns on everyone else, including Chico.  He’s about to leave when he sees that one of the slain is a woman he’s been chasing the whole picture.  He lies down, cuddles up next to her corpse, and with a huge smile on his face, sprays himself.

4.  Margaret Dumont often played a wealthy society matron in the Marx Brothers movies.  Other than being an actress, what was she in real life?  She was a wealthy society matron.  Actress and comedienne Daisy J. Baker (1882-1965) took the stage name Margaret Dumont (left) when she appeared in vaudeville at the turn of the Twentieth Century.  She married sugar heir John Moller, Jr. in 1910, and retired from the stage to fulfill her obligations as a society matron (for the most part--she took a bit part in the 1917 version of Dickens‘ A Tale of Two Cities).  When Moller died in 1918, she returned to the stage.  In 1925, she appeared in the Marx Brothers’ second hit Broadway play, The Coconuts, and three years later in their third smash musical, Animal Crackers.  She reprised her role in both movies. Although she made fifty-four flicks during her life, she’s most remembered for her co-starring role in seven Marx Brothers movies.

In an interview with Dick Cavett in either 1969 or 1971 (I’ve seen the clip, but cannot tell which date it’s from--these are the two dates that Marx appeared on that show),  Groucho fondly remembered her as a superb straight man.  He further said that the reason she was so great was because she never understood their humor, especially when she was the butt of it. 

Her family, however, insists that she always got Groucho’s jokes, and ad-libs.  She was able to come across that clueless because she was just that good. Days before she died, Dumont taped a segment with Groucho for a television variety show.  He made several ad-libbed wisecracks.  Caught completely off-guard, and years out of practice in handling ’Julie’ (her nickname for him), she lost character and laughed.   So you be the judge.

5.  Marx Brother movies often featured beautiful women.  Can you match the actresses below to the film they appeared in?
(1) Lucille Ball                 (a)  A Day at the Races
(2) Kitty Carlisle              (b)  A Night at the Opera
(3) Dorothy Dandridge   (c)  Animal Crackers
(4) Marilyn Monroe        (d)  Duck Soup
(5) Lillian Roth                (e)  Love Happy
(6) Thelma Todd              (f)  Monkey Business
(7) Raquel Torres            (g)  Room Service
(1) Lucille Ball (1911-1989) in (g) Room Service; (2) Kitty Carlisle (1910-2007) in (b) A Night at the Opera; (3) Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) in (a) A Day at the Races; (4) Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) in (e) Love Happy (Answered by Foam); (5) Lillian Roth (1910-1980) (c) Animal Crackers; (6)Thelma Todd (1906-1935) in (f) Monkey Business; and (7) Raquel Torres (1908-1987) in (d) Duck Soup.

Monroe, sadly, wasn’t the only one of these seven to die under mysterious circumstances.  Several hours after talking on the phone with her ex-sister-in-law, Dorothy Dandridge (left) was found dead by her manager, Earl Mills.  In his 1983 book Coroner,  Chief Medical Examiner (Los Angeles County) Dr. Thomas Noguchi related how his staff originally determined that Dandridge died of a broken foot (the fracture supposedly caused an embolism, which resulted in fatty tissue breaking off from the bone, and traveling along the circulatory system to block blood flow to vital organs).  Such a diagnosis is rare, so Noguchi ordered a follow-up just to be sure.  A toxicology screening found that she had lethal levels of the antidepressant imipramine in her system.  Many sources characterize the overdose as accidental.  But due to the ongoing turmoil in her life over the previous several years--a decline in acting roles and club dates, a nasty divorce from a physically abusive ex-husband, her daughter’s confinement to a mental institution, and the embezzlement of over $150,000 by her accountants which not only left her broke but with a tax debt of $139,000--Noguchi believed she intentionally overdosed.

On 16 December 1935, maid Mae Whitehead went upstairs to clean an apartment when she found the body of Thelma Todd (right) slumped over the steering wheel of a car parked inside the building's garage.  LAPD determined that she suffered carbon monoxide poisoning after she accidentally fell asleep when running the motor to start the car.  A grand jury ruled her death a suicide. Many believe, however, that her ex-husband, reputed mobster Pat DiCioco, put a hit out on her. She last saw him at a Hollywood nightclub, the Trocadero, about twenty-four hours before her death.  While there, they had an argument.  The next day, witnesses saw her riding around LA with a dark-haired stranger.  The garage where she died, was partially open.  Moreover, someone had turned off the ignition, despite the fact that the car still had two gallons of gas in the tank.  Police also noted blood on her face and dress, as well as a smudged handprint on the outer door.  Three years later, DiCioco was implicated in another murder, that of comic Ted Healy

6.  For each quote, name the Marx Brother who said it:
(a)  “If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world’s against you, go stand on your head.  If you can think of anything crazier, do it.”  Harpo.

(b)  “I wasn’t kissing her.  I was whispering in her mouth.”  Chico. (Answered by Foam)

(c)  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”  Groucho, according to his friend, humorist Leo Rosten (1908-1997).  (Answered by Foam)

(d)   “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun.’” Groucho.

(e)  “[When visiting Weimar Germany] I saw the most frightening, most depressing sight I had ever seen--a row of stores with Stars of David and the word ‘Jude’ painted on them, and inside, behind half-empty counters, people in a daze, cringing like they didn’t know what hit them and didn’t know where the next blow would come from. Hitler had been in power only six months, and his boycott was already in full effect. I hadn’t been so wholly conscious of being a Jew since my bar mitzvah, and it was the first time since I’d had the measles that I was too sick to eat.” Harpo.  He gave quite a bit of insightful commentary on anti-Semitism in the US and elsewhere.

(f)  “Of course you miss your family and when you get older you have some people that you’re bound to miss. So [chuckling] you have to do the best you can. But it’s hard to think about the kind of feeling that you had with these brothers and your friends.   Zeppo said this to an interviewer shortly before his death.
7.    What Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright (and original Knight of the Algonquin Round Table) wrote four of the Marx Brothers’ most successful movies?  George S. Kaufman (1889-1961).  Kaufman and Harpo were two of the original Knights, along with sportswriter Heywood Broun (1888-1939), and poet Dorothy Parker (1893-1967). 

He received credits for The Coconuts and Animal Crackers, because he wrote both the original plays.  He also wrote the screenplays for A Day at the Races and A Night at the Opera.  Side note:  Irving Berlin (1888-1989) wrote the original score for The Coconuts.

8.   What legendary filmmaker produced two of the Marx Brothers’ most successful movies?  Irving Thalberg (1899-1936) produced A Day at the Races and A Night at the OperaThe Irving Thalberg Award given at the Oscars was named in his honor.

With such composers as Irving Berlin, such writers as Kaufman, and such producers as Thalberg working with them, the Marx Brothers had some heavyweight creative support behind them.

9.   What movies featured the following lines?
(a) “[Groucho]  I am the same Sam Grunion who solved the international uranium-mining swindle. Scotland Yard was baffled; the FBI was baffled. They sent for me and the case was solved immediately: I confessed.” Love Happy.  The Marx Brothers try to help some wannabe actors stage a play, when they accidentally come across some stolen diamonds.

(b)  “[Chico]  What you need is a good bodyguard.”
“[Groucho]  What I need is a good body.  The one I’ve got isn’t worth guarding.”
  A Night in Casablanca.  This is a true X-Spot movie, in that it deals with finding loot stolen by the Nazis. 

Warner Brothers was concerned about this film prior to its release, because they didn’t know whether or not it plagiarized their movie, Casablanca.  According to urban legend, Warner Brothers threatened to sue MGM for using the word ’Casablanca’ in the title, which prompted Groucho to threaten to sue them for using the word ‘Brothers’ in their corporate name. According to most sources, however, this exchange of threats never occurred.

(c) “[Margaret Dumont] I’m afraid that after we’re married awhile, a beautiful young girl will come along, and, uh, you’ll forget all about me.”
“[Groucho] Don’t be silly.  I’ll write you twice a week.” 
The Big Store.  This was the last appearance of Margaret Dumont in a Marx Brothers film.

(d)  “[Chico to Harpo]  Right now, I’d do anything for money.  I’d kill somebody for money.  I’d kill you for nothing.”
[Harpo looks sad and betrayed]
“[Chico to Harpo] Ha, ha, ha, ah no.  You’re my friend.  I’d kill you for nothing.”
  The Coconuts.  This movie poked merciless fun at the Florida Land Boom., a hot-button topic of the 1920s.

(e)  “[Groucho]  It’s all right, that’s in every contract.  That’s what they call a sanity clause.”
“[Chico]  You can’t fool me.  There ain’t no Sanity Claus!”
  A Night at the Opera.  Groucho and Chico are negotiating a contract.  When they can’t agree on one’s demand, the other capitulates by ripping out the offending item.  By the time this scene is over, their contracts are just scraps of paper.
10.  Sometimes, a quote is attributed to a Marx Brother, and a controversy arises as to whether or not he actually said it.  In the following two cases, what did legend have one of Minnie’s boys saying?
(a)  What did Chico allegedly say to patrician actress Tallulah Bankhead upon meeting her at a party?  

The host was a good friend of both Marx and Tallulah Bankhead (1902-1968), who wouldn’t dare think of not inviting them both to his party.  But according to Dick Cavett, he was worried that Chico’s crudeness would upset the genteel southern belle from an old-money family.  So he told Marx to be on his best behavior, and alerted other guests to notify him if he acted in any way ungentlemanly to Bankhead.

When finally introduced to her, he allegedly said, “Miss Bankhead, I really, really want to fuck you.”

To which she allegedly replied, “And so you shall, you wonderful old-fashioned boy.”  They then left the party together. 

In some ways the story makes sense because both Bankhead and Marx were extremely colorful characters, with a ribald sense of humor, and a tendency toward wild behavior at times.  They both also had a reputation (earned or not) for being (ahem!) sexually restless. And Cavett said he got the story from a reliable source.

The problem here is that a number of other men (some famous, some not) were rumored to have said this to Bankhead, and achieving the same result.  Thus, the tale is apocryphal and has all the markings of an urban legend.
(b)  During the taping of his radio show, You Bet Your Life, a contestant shocked Groucho when she told him she had given birth to sixteen children.  When he asked her why she had so many kids, she said, “Well, I love my husband.”  What did he allegedly say in response?  

Groucho allegedly said to the woman, “I love my cigar, but I take it out once and awhile.”  (Answered by Ray)

Despite the fact that You Bet Your Life was pre-recorded for broadcast and preserved, this conversation never appears on any of its tapes or transcriptions.  Yet thousands upon thousands of people vehemently claim that they heard it.

George Fenneman (1919-1997), Groucho’s sidekick on the show, insisted for the rest of his life that the story wasn’t true.  Groucho, on the other hand, insisted that it was.   He explained that NBC censors cut out the naughty line before airing the program.  Thus, the only people who could have heard the line were people in the studio audience, who then told their friends, who told more friends….

Whatever the case, no one actually heard this on radio.  So if someone tells you otherwise, they’re lying their pants off.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Sons of Minnie

When dancer Minnie Schoenberg (left) immigrated from Germany to the US, she probably had no idea that she would spawn a legend.

Literally. 

She met and fell in love with French immigrant Sam Marx, a second-rate tailor with a quick wit.  Their children would dominate pop culture during the first half of the Twentieth Century, and their influence is still felt in the present day.

In a previous series, you learned about my love of exploitation films.  But I’m also a fan of other cinema, including the movies of the Marx Brothers.  I’m hardly alone.  You might know more about them and their movies than you think.  Test your knowledge of Marx Brothers trivia in the quiz below.

1.  What nickname (or nicknames) did not belong to an actual Marx Brother (mark all that apply):  (A) Chico; (B) Dummo; (C) Groucho; (D) Gummo; (E) Harpo; (F) Zeppo? 

2.  In the movie Horse Feathers, what does Harpo pull out of his pocket and give to a homeless man who asks him for change?

3.  How does the movie Animal Crackers end:  (A) Chico steals a painting that he thinks is a masterpiece, but is in fact a forgery; (B) Groucho marries lovebirds Arabella Rittenhouse and John Parker; (C) Harpo slays nearly the entire cast, and then commits suicide; (D) Zeppo woos Arabella Rittenhouse away from John Parker, and the other brothers help the pair elope?

4.  Margaret Dumont often played a wealthy society matron in the Marx Brothers movies.  Other than being an actress, what was she in real life?

5.  Marx Brother movies often featured beautiful women.  Can you match the actresses below to the film they appeared in?

(1) Lucille Ball                  (a)  A Day at the Races
(2) Kitty Carlisle              (b)  A Night at the Opera
(3) Dorothy Dandridge   (c)  Animal Crackers
(4) Marilyn Monroe        (d)  Duck Soup
(5) Lillian Roth                 (e)  Love Happy
(6) Thelma Todd              (f)  Monkey Business
(7) Raquel Torres             (g)  Room Service

6.  For each quote, name the Marx Brother who said it:

(a)  “If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world’s against you, go stand on your head.  If you can think of anything crazier, do it.”

(b)  “I wasn’t kissing her.  I was whispering in her mouth.”

(c)  “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” 

(d)   “When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, ‘Damn, that was fun.’"

(e)  “[When visiting Weimar Germany] I saw the most frightening, most depressing sight I had ever seen--a row of stores with Stars of David and the word ‘Jude’ painted on them, and inside, behind half-empty counters, people in a daze, cringing like they didn`t know what hit them and didn`t know where the next blow would come from. Hitler had been in power only six months, and his boycott was already in full effect. I hadn`t been so wholly conscious of being a Jew since my bar mitzvah, and it was the first time since I had the measles that I was too sick to eat.”

(f)  “Of course you miss your family and when you get older you have some people that you’re bound to miss. So [chuckling] you have to do the best you can. But it’s hard to think about the kind of feeling that you had with these brothers and your friends.
7.    What Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright (and original Knight of the Algonquin Round Table) wrote four of the Marx Brothers’ most successful movies?

8.   What legendary filmmaker produced two of the Marx Brothers’ most successful movies?

9.   What movies featured the following lines?

(a) “[Groucho]  I am the same Sam Grunion who solved the international uranium-mining swindle. Scotland Yard was baffled; the FBI was baffled. They sent for me and the case was solved immediately: I confessed.”

(b)  “[Chico]  What you need is a good bodyguard.”
“[Groucho]  What I need is a good body.  The one I’ve got isn’t worth guarding.”

(c) “[Margaret Dumont] I’m afraid that after we’re married awhile, a beautiful young girl will come along, and, uh, you’ll forget all about me.”
“[Groucho] Don’t be silly.  I’ll write you twice a week.”

(d)  “[Chico to Harpo]  Right now, I’d do anything for money.  I’d kill somebody for money.  I’d kill you for money.”
[Harpo looks sad and betrayed]
“[Chico to Harpo] Ha, ha, ha, ah no.  You’re my friend.  I’d kill you for nothing.” 
(e)  “[Groucho]  It’s all right, that’s in every contract.  That’s what they call a sanity clause.”
“[Chico]  You can’t fool me.  There ain’t no Sanity Claus!”
10.  Sometimes, a quote is attributed to a Marx Brother, and a controversy arises as to whether or not he actually said it.  In the following two cases, what did rumor have one of Minnie’s boys saying?
(a)  What did Chico allegedly say to actress Tallulah Bankhead upon meeting her at a party?

(b)  During the taping of his radio show, You Bet Your Life, a contestant shocked Groucho when she told him she had given birth to sixteen children.  When he asked her why she had so many kids, she said, “Well, I love my husband.”  What did he allegedly say in response?

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

A Real Love for Big Cheats: And Recurrence

Nowadays, shrinks who dabble in that sort of thing, use the term ‘narcosynthesis’ to describe a treatment protocol whereby the psychiatrist uses drugs (narcotics) in combination with other techniques to facilitate the healing process.  This practice grew out of CIA and military research on ‘narcohypnosis,’ which, as the name suggests, combines drugs and trances.  Dr. William Bryan, a colorful figure who served as a technical advisor for Hollywood movies and television shows, and who sometimes dabbled in show-biz himself as a stage hypnotist, is often identified as the figure who, more than anyone else, developed the Agency’s narcohypnosis program.*  Yet, others affiliated with Intel would have a similar expertise, among them Dr. Martin Orne.

That’s why Wikipedia’s entry on Sexton especially piqued my interest.  Discussing Orne’s controversial release of Anne’s tapes to Dr. Diane Middlebrook, the writer states:
Following one of many suicide attempts and breakdowns, Sexton worked with therapist Dr. Martin Orne. He diagnosed her with what is now described as bipolar disorder, but his competence to do so is called into question by his early use of allegedly unsound psychotherapeutic techniques. During sessions with Anne Sexton he used hypnosis and sodium pentothal to recover supposedly repressed memories.  During this process, he allegedly used suggestion to uncover memories of inflicting childhood sexual abuse. This abuse was refuted in interviews with her mother and other relatives.
If this were true, then Dr. Orne unquestionably performed narcohypnosis on Sexton.  More important, the only place where he would have gained any knowledge about this protocol, in 1957, would have through his work with CIA.  After all, the first public discussion of narcohypnosis wouldn’t occur until two years later, when Richard Condon published The Manchurian Candidate.  This would be smoking gun evidence that Orne used Anne as an MK-ULTRA guinea pig. 

The Wikipedia datum was documented by a footnote.  I immediately clicked it, only to find, to my disappointment, that the writer cited Dr. Diane Middlebrook’s biography as the source.  By then, I knew that her biography said no such thing.  Instead, it said that Dr. Orne emphatically refused to hypnotize Sexton, who then asked for sodium pentothal.  Curiously, while Orne’s refutation of hypnosis was short, sweet and unambiguous, neither he nor Middlebrook said anything about whether or not he actually administered the truth drug per Sexton’s request.  Thus, the writer of the Wikipedia article did not get this fact from the Middlebrook bio. 

I then thought the writer might have made a simple misattribution--which happens, sometimes, when you spill coffee on your notes, or you get to the age where you can no longer read your own handwriting.  So I tried to find another source with this bit of information.  That source might exist, but I haven’t found it. 

Still, the juxtaposition of drugs and hypnosis per a patient’s request sounds kinda odd to me, especially in 1957.  So one might wonder if Dr. Orne might have somehow planted the suggestion to her, perhaps quite subtly.  Maybe he threw out various hints about using these techniques alone or in combination.  Maybe he let her find her own way to making the connection herself, if perchance he knew that she were reading material that would lead in that direction.  As Middlebrook explained:
Although Dr. Orne did not, apparently, encourage Sexton to read psychology, he didn’t discourage the practice either; after all, he had prescribed any kind of educational effort as highly therapeutic in her case…. Her inexactness about analytic theory indicates that she was not attempting to master it.  Was her reading a way of identifying with her doctor, of finding yet another ‘twin’?
Simply put, it’s enticing to think that Dr. Orne might have actually manifest some solid connection between his treatment of Sexton and his work with the military and Intel.  But if he did, he didn’t admit it to Dr. Middlebrook.  And little other evidence would exist to suggest that he did.  At the same time, for whatever reason, Sexton articulated a suggestion of narcohypnosis.

As noted previously, Anne Sexton manifest symptoms of what pop psychologists would call Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), or what psychiatrists nowadays refer to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), in late-1957.  The ‘second personality,’ Elizabeth, exhorted Dr. Orne to hypnotize both her and Anne so that the latter could give up the big secret (which, as it turned out, was childhood sexual abuse), and then asked him to apply sodium pentothal after he refused to put her under a hypnotic trance.

Elizabeth’s very existence calls to mind a number of alleged MK-ULTRA victims, who have claimed that Intel-funded psychiatrists deliberately developed another, more brash personality within their psyches.  Candy Jones’ alter ego, Arlene Grant, immediately comes to mind, but there are many others.**  The basic premise, according to claimants, was to split the subject’s mind into fragmented identities, making it easier for them to infiltrate, and convince authorities of innocence (e.g., by passing polygraph tests).   Splitting the personality could also allow a handler greater control.  Dr. Colin Ross, a controversial Texas-based psychiatrist (MD) specializing in dissociative disorders, echoes the conventional beliefs of the mainstream in some respects.  Like his peers, he believes that DID results from iatrogenesis, or the therapy itself. As he explained in a lecture given at the Ninth Annual Western Clinical Conference on Trauma and Dissociation (April 1996):
When I combine the expert witness experience that I have had at clinically created iatrogenic DID using the techniques of destructive psychotherapy cults in the course of persuasion, as I described this morning-when I take that expert witness evidence and see those cases created out of a base of no pre-existing DID and then I go to this CIA military mind control literature, my only possible conclusion is yes, you can create full tilt DID artificially from ground zero.
While iatrogenesis usually implies an accidental, unintentional occurrence that adversely influences treatment, Ross goes on to posit that physicians and caregivers (especially those connected to the military and Intel) could make the same “mistakes” on purpose, and therefore produce the same affect. 

Dr. Orne must have had some awareness of the psychoanalyst/ psychotherapist’s role in contributing to DID.  That’s the reason he gave Middlebrook for ending his acknowledgement of the Elizabeth personality.  Still, he allowed Sexton to manifest this character, and let her type letters in the dark, for some time.  He obviously got an eyeful of Elizabeth.  Although Dr. Orne did not publish a single paper on dissociation (at least as far as I know), he could have still spoken of his observations of Sexton--he wouldn’t even have to use her name or divulge other personally identifiable information--to other researchers more directly involved in artificially creating DID. 

Of course, that’s if Dr. Ross and these MK-ULTRA claimants are correct.  (And trust me, that’s a big “IF.”)  Still, that’s one more MK-ULTRA association one could make with Sexton’s treatments, and another example of how Anne might have informed Dr. Orne’s future research.

Briefly summarizing this and the preceding post,  Sexton’s therapy had undertones of contemporary CIA research on deception, hypnosis, narcohypnosis, and the artificial creation of alter egos.  This is not to say that Dr. Orne manipulated Sexton in any profound way.  But the strong probably remains that she informed various aspects of his work.

The most interesting connection between Sexton and Orne’s later work may not have any bearing on his work with Intel, at least directly.  Looking back on how Sexton hooked up with Orne in the first place, we can see that she originally sought treatment from Martin’s mother, the prominent psychiatrist Dr. Martha Brunner-Orne.  Sexton went to her because Dr. Brunner-Orne treated her father for alcoholism.  When Martha could no longer accommodate Sexton because of a scheduling conflict, she gave the case to her son.

No doubt, Dr. Orne’s mom discussed Sexton with him before handing her over as a patient.  Thus, Orne would learn that the crux of her problem centered around Anne’s love for an alcoholic father, who allegedly  raped her as a young girl.*** Whether or not this rape occurred, we can only speculate.  We would also have to speculate as to whether the father (Ralph Harvey) disclosed any sexual transgressions to Dr. Brunner-Orne, or if Martha disclosed any information about Harvey’s case to Martin, maybe just to give him some background on Sexton’s problems.

Here’s one thing, about which we don’t have to speculate:  at the very same time that Dr. Orne is mulling over whether or not to release Sexton’s tapes to Dr. Middlebrook, he is treating a patient who will lead him to a story almost identical to Anne’s.  As with Sexton, this case involved a brilliant young woman, from a well-heeled, socially respected eastern family, an alcoholic father, and the accusation of childhood sexual abuse.**** 

This story, however, has a twist.  Instead of simply counseling his patient, Dr. Orne, this time, took a more active role.  Moreover, he managed to get a number of other CIA-funded shrinks to join him in this quest.
Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.
--Anne Sexton, from “Wanting to Die


 

____________________
*Dr. Bryan claimed that he personally programmed Sirhan Sirhan, and George Wallace’s would-be assassin Arthur Bremer

**Just so we’re not totally bogged down, I’ll discuss these specific cases at a later date.  Nevertheless, you can find oodles and oodles of sites linking the aritificial creation of DID to MK-ULTRA.

***Orne's position was that any number of adults might have inadvertently abused Sexton sexually, most notably her mother.  At a very young age, Anne suffered a vaginal cyst which required constant attention both in the home and doctor's office.  That meant that the adults in her life frequently inspected her for signs of trouble.  As Middlebrook wrote:
The point is, the veracity of the incest narrative cannot be established historically, but that does not mean that it didn’t, in a profound and lasting sense, ‘happen.’  It is clear from many sources that Sexton’s physical boundaries were repeatedly trespassed by the adults in her family in ways that disturbed her emotional life from girlhood onward.
Sexton's mom, Mary Harvey, served as Anne's primary caregiver, prompting Dr. Orne to comment, “In many ways, her mother was the dangerous relationship.”


****One could speculate that Dr. Orne’s involvement with this case might have influenced his decision to release Sexton’s therapy tapes. an act that many could construe as a blatant violation of ethics.

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