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Time Out: Groucho Marx and the Funniest Film Character Names

Note: this post appeared recently under a different title on The Blog of Funny Names

“Those are my principles.  If you don’t like them, I have others.”–Groucho Marx

The inimitable Groucho

The Inimitable Groucho

Julius HenryGrouchoMarx (October 2, 1890 – August 19, 1977) was not only one of the funniest men to ever live, he also played some of the funniest named characters in American movie history.  It’s also notable (at least to me) that he is the “ridiculous” part of the inspiration in the name of this blog (The Millennium Conjectures: A blog of the Ridiculous and Sublime).  And by the way,  the “sublime” half of the inspiration is one Mohandas K. Gandhi (October 2, 1869-January 30, 1948).  The point?  Well, take a close look and you will see one similarity.   They share the same birthday, October 2,  which just happens to be my birthday–if many years later.

But I digress.  While Groucho’s name may only be somewhat funny, many of the character names he played in a slew of classic Marx Brothers movies were over the top funny.  Here are just a few of them,  in chronological order.

Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff (Horsefeathers, 1932)

” I married your mother because I wanted children. Imagine my disappointment when you arrived. “–Groucho Marx in Horsefeathers.

While Groucho’s first truly iconic role was that of  Captain Jeffrey Spaulding in 1930’s Animal Crackers, Wagstaff was his first funny-named character.  But believe me, in that department he was just getting started.

Rufus  T. Firefly (Duck Soup, 1933)

“Go, and never darken my towels again.”–Groucho Marx in Duck Soup.

While originally opening to mixed reviews, perhaps due to its then already dated World War I era political satire,  Duck Soup has since become regarded as a classic and comedic masterpiece and was named to the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 films of the 20th century.  One critic said “love the comedy and ignore the plot.”  No kidding.  Caring about the plot of a Marx Brothers movie is like caring about the frame on a Picasso.

Otis P. Driftwood (A Night at the Opera, 1935)

“And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.”–Groucho Marx in A Night at the Opera

Another classic which was also named to AFI’s top 100 American Films of the 20th century.  It just happens to also include what I consider the funniest scene of slapstick comedy ever made. (See below).

I’d laugh even harder, but the last cruise I went on, my own cabin was about that size.

 

Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush (A Day at the Races, 1937)

“I have a confession to make.  I’m a horse doctor.  But marry me and I’ll never look at another horse.”–Groucho Marx in A Day at the Races

As suggested by the quote above, Groucho plays a veterinarian of dubious skills in this flick.  I always think of the character name as being Dr. Quackenbush.  And as my wife happens to be a veterinarian, I laugh doubly hard.  Hey, if I can laugh at myself,  I can laugh at my wife, too.

J. Cheever Loophole (At the Circus. 1939)

 “I bet your father spent the first year of your life throwing rocks at the stork.”  Groucho Marx in At the Circus

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, with that name, Groucho’s character in this one was a lawyer.  It wasn’t the best of the Marx Brothers’ movies, but produced one of the most iconic musical numbers from their oeuvre, Lydia the Tattooed Lady.

That’s just a sampling,  but if you don’t like these, well, he has others!

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Cosmic Quote #52: Play Ball!

“There are three things you can do in a baseball game.  You can win, you can lose, or it can rain.”–Casey Stengel

brrrrr

brrrrr

Unfortunately, there is a fourth thing that can happen.  It can snow.  And as that is exactly what it is currently doing outside my window right now, I thought I’d get a head start on this coming Sunday’s Major League Baseball opener and give spring some encouragement.   Stay warm and dry, my friends.

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Cosmic Quote #3.1415…..Happy Pi Day

“Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare.”–Rene Descartes

“It’s clearly a budget.  It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”–George W. Bush

Cherry is good, too.

Cherry is good, too.

It seems that perfect presidents are even rarer than perfect men or perfect numbers.  And that goes doubly for perfect web sites, as that “W” quote above came from the inaptly named brainyquote.com.  So what better entity to dedicate a day to than the most famous of imperfect numbers, π.    On this Pi Day of the century (3/14/15) have yourself a slice of your favorite.  I’m in Florida at the moment, so that would definitely be Key Lime.

Cheers

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Timeout: This is Not a Pipe

marksackler:

Winter Chill Rerun: Time for Something Warm…

Originally posted on The Millennium Conjectures™:

“I am two with nature.”–Woody Allen

This is not a pipe The Treachery of Images, by Rene Magritte, 1928-29
Ceci n’est pas une pipe. This is not a pipe.

René Magritte’s message is rather unambiguous.  An image of a “thing” is not the thing itself.  But don’t worry, I’m not headed toward a heavy ontological discussion here.  I have a simple question which, believe it or not, my overly opinionated philosophical mind has virtually no idea how to answer.   Maybe one of you out there can help.

I love nature photography.  Flowers, birds, wildlife, oceans, lakes, clouds, mountains, landscapes–you name it, I like looking at these images and they are my favorite to photograph.  Good grief, I’ve even photographed mud puddles and insects.  And yet I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, what one would call a nature lover.  I hate gardening and yard work.  I won’t even mow my own lawn as…

View original 232 more words

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Mark’s Neologisms #3

“I would stare at a map of Delaware for hours.”–Ken Jennings

“Men read maps better than women because only men understand the concept of one inch equaling 100 miles.”–Roseanne Barr

directile dysfunction**–noun

1. The inability to read a map, or follow simple directions, generally caused by over-dependence on GPS monitors.

2. A wrong turn or disorientation caused by dysfunctional GPS software.

www.cartoonstock.com used with permission

http://www.cartoonstock.com used with permission

Away back in the 20th century, my wife referred to the malady described in the first definition above as geographical dyslexia. She suffers from it.   I actually use her as a sort of reverse GPS–the surer she is we are going the right way, the surer I am we are lost.  Now all we need is a neologism for whatever ails Ken Jennings.  Any suggestions?

**OK, I admit it. After thinking this one up, I Googled it and discovered it already exists in the urban dictionary, but c’mon, it’s just too good not to use.

 

 

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Time Out: The Amazing Oliphant Chuckerbutty

Note: This post appeared yesterday, under a different title, on The Blog of Funny Names

“Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.”–Winston Churchill

In the beginning, there was Outerbridge Horsey.  And Outerbridge Horsey begat Outerbridge Horsey, Jr., who begat Outerbridge Horsey III, who begat Outerbridge Horsey IV and so on through Outerbridge Horsey VII, who still lives today.   And collectively, The Horseys begat the blog of Funny Names which became the bible of funny names.

Now, unto us a king is given.  Behold a new dawn and a New Testament of funny names.

I give you, Oliphant Chuckerbutty.  Or in full, Soorjo Alexander William Langobard Oliphant Chuckerbutty.   (note: he apparently also was known at times as Wilson Oliphant, but why he would ever go by anything other than Oliphant Chuckerbutty is beyond me.).

No, not that Oliphant.

No, not that Oliphant.

The esteemed Mr. Chuckerbutty (1884-1960) was a church and cinema organist, as well as composer of organ music.   He lived most of his life in India. He was best known for, well, not much other than an awesome name.  He did write a brief treatise for young aspiring cinema organists and a single one of his compositions has survived in the classical organist repertory.   Unfortunately for his legacy, there has been no call for cinema organists since the invention of talkies in the late 1920’s.  And here’s an interesting puzzle:  if the World Wide Web has only existed since the 1980’s,  how is it that his ancient document entitled To be or not to be–A Cinema Organist is available on line (here)?  Would anyone in his right mind actually publish this relic today?  No.  Aliens definitely walk among us; they built the internet hundreds of years ago and hid it from us until this exposee on The Blog of Funny Names.  

There’s not much else to tell about Mr. Chuckerbutty.  His grandfather was a journalist named William Oliphant–which might lead one to speculate that he was a relative of the political cartoonist Pat Oliphant.   It might; I have no idea.  Or maybe he was the inspiration for Tolkien’s oliphants.  I suspect that would actually be the organist in  the You Tube video below.

Postscript:  One of the comments on The Blog of Funny Names made reference to an online picture of Oliphant Chuckerbutty in a bow tie.   I looked up that picture and was astonished to see that he is was a near dead ringer for the notorious Arnold Rothstein.  As their supposed birth dates are within two years of each other, I’m wondering:  brothers separated at birth?  Or maybe Rothstein didn’t die from gunshot wounds in that NYC hotel in 1928.  Maybe he moved to London and became Oliphant Chuckerbutty.  What do you think?

Oliphant Rothstein?

Oliphant Rothstein?

Arnold Chuckerbutt?

Arnold Chuckerbutty?

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Cosmic Quote #51

“I am fond of pigs.  Dogs look up to us.  Cats look down on us.  Pigs treat us as equals.”–Winston Churchill

He obviously uses my denist

He obviously uses my denist.

This is one of my wife’s favorite quotes.  No wonder she is always calling me a pig.  I’m betting a pig story in Tales of a Veterinary Spouse can’t be too far behind. Stay tuned.  Oink. Oink.

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Mark’s Neologisms #2

“Never trust a computer you can’t throw out the window.”–Steve Wozniak

computus interruptus— n. the spontaneous unwanted shutdown of a program or app on a computer, tablet or smart phone.

 

 

computus interuptus

We’ve all been there.   You’re just about done with the spread sheet, or you just found the eatery you want on Yelp, or you are on the verge of a record score on some dumb game.  And then you click or tap or swipe and the program or app shuts down.  Poof.  It’s gone.  Dear Mr. Hawking, please tell us which black hole it fell into and how do we get it back?  Or do we do the Wozniakian thing and throw the device out the window?  Oh look, I just created another neologism.  Wozniakian.  Isn’t this fun?

 

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New Feature: Mark’s Neologisms

” I can’t wait to go home and wash all those socks.”–Julianne Moore

Let’s face it:  daily life in the new millennium is full of any number of experiences that, well, there is just no word or words to describe.    Enter Mr. World’s Most Cluttered Mind to come to the rescue.  Herein lies the ultimate descriptionary for everything you wanted to curse out but had no easy descriptive way to do so.  We’ll start, though, with a low tech dilemma, rooted in the 20th century.

Dysoxia–n.  The anxiety caused by inability to match socks when they come out of the wash.

Somebody is not following directions.

Somebody is not following directions.  (Cartoon attribution unknown)

We’ve all experienced it.   You get to the end of folding a basket of clean clothes, and there they are:  two socks that don’t match.  Even worse, maybe there is an odd number of socks left with no matches.  Three. Five. (1083)+1.**    There are any number of theories to explain this phenomenon.   The socks are alien beings, and the missing one has reported back to its home planet.  Socks are the larval form of wire hangers.  A more scientific approach is my theory of frequent wash color drift:  as socks get washed over and over, the color of each sock fades at different rates over time.   This causes subtle mismatches which, when compounded by folding several pairs,  may leave you with two socks at the end that are far apart in hue.   How does this explain being left with an odd sock at the end?  My guess is somewhere one sock disintegrated and its remains will be found in the lint drawer.

Please feel free to share your theories, and to suggest subjects for future editions of Mark’s Neologisms.  Oh, and my advice to Ms. Moore?  You’re a rich movie star.  Don’t ever wash socks,  you can afford to wear them once and throw them away.

** In case you were wondering how many socks (1083)+1 is–it is probably enough to fill the entire visible universe.  And none of them would match.

 

 

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Cosmic Quote #50

“Everything that happens to me is very cosmic.”–Tommy Chong

 

Tommy Chong.  Cosmic is as cosmic does.

Tommy Chong. Cosmic is as cosmic does.

Um..um…yeah!! (Duh).  It’s pretty obvious why his experiences are so “cosmic.”  And how often do I get to run a Cosmic Quote that actually has the word cosmic in it?

Stay cosmic, my friends.

 

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