Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Spend My Saturday Nights Reading Old Magazines

Yes, I do read the old magazines, not just mock the pictures. It's a grand way to relax after a frantic day at the auctions.

Lurking within the pages of the November 1957 issue of Good Housekeeping was this snippet on Foible Spotters:

Reading it -- and then again, out loud, to hubby -- I couldn't stop giggling; especially at this:
Two foible spotters extraordinary (they spot their own as well as other people's) have new books out this fall that deserve your attention. Sylvia Wright's Get Away from Me with Those Christmas Gifts and Jean Kerr's Please Don't Pick the Daisies...
Now the title of Wright's book had me rolling. It struck me as funny, this fear of Christmas gifts, but also it was odd as I'd never previously heard of Wright's books yet Kerr's book can literally be purchased by the pound (and for a dime, at that).

When curious, turn to the Internets.

A quick search and I discovered that Wright's book is a collection of essays, including the titular work which appeared in Harper's, December, 1952. From this work Wright is heralded by some as the 'foible spotter' to credit with the anti-commercialization of Christmas.

Only they don't say it so nicely.

Like Stephen Bayley who wrote that Wright was also:
a connoisseur of Yuletide horror. Her splendid 1957 collection of essays, Get away from me with those Christmas gifts!, has an urgent title which nicely captures the damaging psychoses stimulated in the pious and puritanical during this time of brainless excess and bogus ritualised jollity. What can be more depressing than an electric pepper mill? Christmas gifts are, by definition, things we do not need.
Sheesh. I'll get back to that another time -- and no, I'm not avoiding it because as Bayley would accuse, I'm suffering from a "clear correlation between a taste for decoration and poor education." I'm just not in the mood to get side-tracked at the moment.

Back to Wright.

Also in her book, Wright apparently coined the term Mondegreen, which is basically the explanation behind why some folks sing Scuse me, while I kiss this guy while listening to Hendrix. (Though this is one of the more noted examples of such misheard phrases or mondegreens, there is evidence to support your friend's claim that he's singing what Jimi did.)

And I would have known none of this if I didn't waste spend my Saturday nights reading old magazines.

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