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February 2, 2010

Who’s Mutt and Jeff Anyhoo?

The official story:
"Mutt and Jeff were comic-strip characters from the early 20th century. A precursor to Laurel and Hardy, they were two working-class everymen -- drinking, gambling, and getting in hot water with their wives. In 1907, a San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist named Bud Fisher ...
By 1915 Mutt and Jeff were a national phenomenon. Many people consider "Mutt and Jeff" to be the first daily comic strip.
Mutt was a tall, lanky man with a penchant for the ponies, while Jeff looked like the Monopoly man after a rough weekend. Mutt and Jeff were affable losers -- the guys in the cheap seats at horse races on a Wednesday afternoon. Characteristic catch phrases used by Mutt and Jeff included "Nix, Mutt, nix!", "For the love of Mike!" and "Oowah!""

Officialer story:
Many years ago I lived alone in a shack by a canal. The plaster was rotting and the mould stinking so I usually left a door open when I was inside the one room kitchen-bedroom-study. There were two cats from the neighborhood who would walk into my house like bored housewives in a shopping mall, stroll around, sit a while, eventually traipse off till the next day. I called them Mutt and Jeff. I talked to them often. Maybe they understood English, or maybe they thought they could pick it up from listening to me.
Then one spring day a tragedy occurred. Mutt and Jeff, my only two buddies at the time, were in front of the shack where I could see them through the glass door, and what they were doing shook me and shocked me. Jeff was on top of Mutt (or vice versa) from the rear biting his neck and they were both screeching in intense pain, wiggling to get free, and ecstatic. I finally realized that one of them was a female and felt so strongly “in the mood” that I could smell it through the closed door. I’m not sure which, since I could never tell them apart. I bet they knew which was which.

The real true authentic story:
I hate Mutt and Jeff. They always criticize me and make fun of me. I wish they’d leave me alone. I’m very sensitive and can’t take it anymore. At least they don’t listen to my songs on the other blog (Martin’s Moan and Drone), or there’d really be some hooting.
And what are those jokes? I don’t get them. It seems they mean to be funny, but come on! Humor, to be humorous, must be much more intelligent than their weak one-liners. Example:
A punster entered a local paper's pun contest. He sent in ten different puns with the hope that at least one of the puns would win. Unfortunately, NO PUN IN TEN DID.

Ha, ha. Now that’s funny. Get it? No pun in ten did.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: For the love of Mike!
Jeff: Nix, Mutt, nix!
Mutt: Oowah!
Jeff: Oowah!

Talk to us, you old grouch!

We who loved J. D. Salinger’s books passionately are sad, of course, that the old man’s finally died, but we’ve carried around for decades a sort of ambivalent admiration for his reclusive resistance, a model non-conformism with ourselves as victims, mixed with a longing for his voluntary muteness to end so that we might once again hear our favorite songster hit the high notes.

In the late sixties—that era of youth being youth (living like there was no tomorrow, against all parents and pigs), loud colors, assassinations, moonshot triumph and Vietnam debacle—I survived adolescence (without finding the sense in it, however) thanks to Salinger, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Brautigan, Tolkien, Conan Doyle, Herbert, Saroyan, Fleming and Thurber. There are others that don’t come back to mind after forty years, but these writers kept me going; I systematically read every book they wrote.

I’m sure high school would have been dreadful anyway, but it didn’t help that I was almost two years younger than my classmates. The girl sitting next to me in sophomore English dropped out of school because she got pregnant, while I asked myself what precisely that meant and how it was accomplished with no answer forthcoming.

I bought my copy of Catcher in the Rye at the Salvation Army Thrift Shop. It was covered in butcher paper and tape, still a banned and shameful book in many places. The thought of someone hiding forbidden-nastiness with fifty strips of scotch tape was hilarious and pathetic. I left the paper on and read Catcher again and again. Then I graduated to the Glass family books, which I liked even more. In 1997 my dear copy of Catcher fell off the trailer while I was moving and vanished. Wonder what the finder thought.

They say that Jerry has been writing all this time. When will we get more (“want it, need it, gimme gimme gimme")? Times have changed; I’ve changed, could be a colossal letdown I suppose, yet I believe I will enjoy the next Salinger book more than just about anything. After all, I liked Cat Stevens' new record (Yusuf Islam, An Other Cup).

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
Jeff: Let me tell you, if you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
Mutt: Oh yeah, well if you don't pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
Jeff: Okay, show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I'll show you A-flat miner.
Mutt: Well, when you've seen one shopping center you've seen a mall.
Jeff: And not only that, you’re stuck with your debt if you can't budge it.
Mutt: Y’know, we should be on TV.
Jeff: Hell, we should be on Mount Olympus looking down.
Mutt: Don’t forget: when two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.
Jeff: That’s us.