Short Story (cure for the quarantine blues), Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer by P. G. Wodehouse

“I am so glad you were able to come, Bertie,” she said. “The air will do you so much good. Far better for you than spending your time in stuffy London night clubs.”

“Oh, ah!” I said.

“You will meet some pleasant people, too. I want to introduce you to a Miss Hemmingway and her brother, who have become great friends of mine. I am sure you will like Miss Hemmingway. A nice, quiet, girl, so different from so many of the bold girls one meets in London nowadays. Her brother is curate at Chipley-in-the-Glen in Dorsetshire. He tells me they are connected with the Kent Hemmingways. A very good family. She is a charming girl.”

I had a grim foreboding of an awful doom. All this boosting was so unlike Aunt Agatha, who normally is one of the most celebrated right and left hand knockers in London Society. I felt a clammy suspicion. And by Jove, I was right.

“Aline Hemmingway,” said Aunt Agatha, “is just the girl I should like to see you marry, Bertie. You ought to be thinking of getting married. Marriage might make something of you. And I could not wish you a better wife than dear Aline. She would be such a good influence in your life.”

“Here, I say!” I said, chilled to the marrow.

—-P. G. Wodehouse, Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer

Crystal Beach, Texas

These are tough times – in addition to the usual hell we all live in there is the lockdown (although I still get to [have to] go to work every day) and the political situation (no matter what side you are on there is the unavoidable feeling that everything is coming apart at the seams) to deal with. Yesterday, it was getting to be too much for me.

Then I stumbled across an article from the BBC about a writer that “wrote the most perfect sentences” and I could not help but take a look. It was referring to P. G. Wodehouse – a very famous author that I had stumbled across before. Decades and decades ago I had read how crackerjack Wodehouse was, specifically the stories around the butler, Jeeves. This was long enough ago that the internet existed but did not have the breadth of content that it does now. I took a look at a couple of Wodehouse tomes at the local library.

And was not impressed. I was very disappointed. It was so twee, so British, so dry… I read here and there and put it up. I never returned to the author (and the butler) – there are so many other books out there (and so little time).

Today, of course, the internet has vomited itself out across the vast virtual wasteland and everything you could imagine (and so so much that you could never have imagined, not in a million years) is out there in the ether. Specifically, there is Project Gutenberg.

And Project Gutenberg has a healthy selection of out-of-copyright Wodehouse – quite a bit of which contains the magic name “Jeeves.” I downloaded a promising-looking text file, manipulated it (removed line breaks, changed the font to Arial 12) to make it readable and saved it as a PDF. I started in, not expecting much.

What the hell was I thinking all that time ago? This shit is hilarious. A smile spread across my face as I read story after story. It erased my Covid-19 funk, chased the riot-stained clouds away, and I was happy again.  Now, I keep that PDF (or others) with me all the time and when I feel the “Mean Reds” coming on I pull it up and read a few pages. Then I smile.

I guess I was simply turned off by the British upper-crust veneer and setting. But there is so much more. The point-of-view character (I can’t call him the hero – maybe not even the protagonist) is young, rich, aristocratic, lazy, and a total idiot. The only bit of wisdom knocking around in his empty skull is that his butler Jeeves is the only thing that allows him to stumble through life halfway successfully. He knows it and so does Jeeves. And Jeeves is a genius. Jeeves knows everybody and everything and exactly what he is doing at every minute of every day.

The stories are all sort of the same: Bertie gets in some awful jam because of his stupidity, sloth, and cowardice until, when all hope is lost, Jeeves swoops in, sets things right, and then you realize the butler had it all under control all along.

Fun. But the best part is the language. Wodehouse is the master if the sardonic quip, the convoluted insult, the silly simile,  the dry observation and, especially the unexpected metaphor. It is comic poetry. It really is.

Wodehouse’s writing – and especially the Jeeves stories – are all over the web. The stories are gathered together in several collections available on Project Gutenberg. The first one I downloaded was called The Inimitable Jeeves.

One story I particularly enjoyed was a struggle Bertie had with his horrible Aunt Agatha on a trip to France. She is trying to get him married and he is trying to slither away. It was published in a couple of different versions in a couple of different magazines of the day.

Read my favorite version here:

Aunt Agatha Makes a Bloomer by P. G. Wodehouse

 

P.S. One thing about the story that I found odd was the moniker of the con man “Soapy Sid.” I was… not really watching… but I had something or another on the television and it spoke to me about a famous con man from the Old West named “Soapy Smith.” He was named that because he had a con game in Colorado involving money allegedly hidden in bars of soap.

He died a bit before the story and was very well known in his day – I imagine he is the inspiration for that strange name.

 

 

 

 

 

If You Pee Here…You May Appear On Youtube

A while back I was at a writing event at a coffee shop in Plano. There were about ten of us sitting at a long table doing some writing but mostly talking. The woman next to me told an interesting story. She and her husband owned an internet services company in Deep Ellum. The thing is that the location is just down the street from The Bomb Factory – a very popular Dallas concert venue – and the space in back of their building is a popular place to park. Unfortunately, it was not a public lot and anyone parking there will get towed. I assume you have had your car towed from some obscure spot during a late evening of nightlife revelry and know how nasty, upsetting, and expensive that can be.

The space in back of their building is heavily labeled and there is no excuse for anyone to park there. Still, they do and they get towed. A lot. So the woman’s husband put up a gaggle of high-quality video cameras facing the no-parking area and captures all the sadness and glory of the nightly dramatics. He edits them with music and funny comments and posts them on a YouTube channel. She said their channel has gone viral and they made a bit of cash from the millions of views they get.

What an amazing story.

So I had to check it out. The channel is GTOger and it’s pretty hilarious. There are hundreds of videos… here’s a typical one:

It’s a real time suck. There are cars getting towed and pissed-off owners coming back. I never knew how fast and efficient the towing companies are (my car-towed days were decades ago – when they actually had to hook a chain to your car) using that automated thing. If you look through the videos there are people peeing, fooling around, and even some photo shoots… all caught on camera and posted for all the world to see.

At any rate, the other weekend I was in Deep Ellum for a Dallas Photowalk. We all met up in front of The Bomb Factory and wandered off in search of photographic scenery. Before long, we were moving down Clover street – a narrow grungy road that was barely more than an alley. Suddenly it looked familiar to me and I realized we were in the GTOger alley right where all those cars were towed. There were the warning signs and the clusters of cameras.

The signage is very clear… I can’t imagine anybody ignoring it and parking there…

let alone taking a leak.

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

 

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Ignorance the Hard Way

“Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Cat’s Cradle

Waxahachie, Texas

What I learned this week, October 26, 2012

13 Reasons You Should Start Biking To Work

The ponds at Huffhines.

My Commute Home from Work

Since I wrote this blog entry, the weather has cooled off a bit and now I’m able to ride both to and from work. I shoot for about two to three times a week. Now, though, it’s getting dark sooner and pretty soon it’ll be dark when I leave for work and dark when I come home. I have put lights on my bike but I’ll have to think hard about fighting rush hour traffic pre-dawn and post sunset.


Alice Munro is about to have a new book of short stories come out. I’ve always said I think she is the unquestioned master of the form. Her writing is beyond language.

You can read one of the stories, “To Reach Japan” – Here.


This clip is a few years old; I remember the good old days when this is the biggest problem we had to worry about.


Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

My 6,128 Favorite Books

Joe Queenan on how a harmless juvenile pastime turned into a lifelong personality disorder.


TEXAS Tells UN Poll Watchers: Don’t Even Try It


Sheaffer Inlaid Nib

Sheaffer Inlaid Nib

Notes about Notes
Fountain Pens

A surprising number of very technical people have recently re-embraced the fountain pen for everyday writing. They’re drawn to fountain pens not from nostalgia or from a desire for expensive jewelry, but because they enjoy the way the pen feels in their hand — or the way their writing looks on the page.

Sheaffer Triumph Nib

Sheaffer Triumph Nib

Sheaffer Dolphin Nib

Sheaffer Dolphin Nib


It’s nice to see an Oak Cliff Restaurant, Smoke, get this sort of attention. Nice burger too.

Best Bacon Burgers in the US – Dallas – Smoke


 ONN’s Presidential Debate Gives Average Americans Totally Unsupervised Airtime




The Rise of the DFW Brew

Kelsey Gunn – Wasting your time, but not very much

As I scoured the depths of YouTube for bits of amusement to stick into my one per week “lazy entry” that I call, “what I learned this week” I kept stumbling across these little jewels of odd humor done by the folks at 5 Second Films. These were only eight seconds long (the three second title sequence doesn’t count) and would cram more story, characterization, and humor into those tiny slices of time than any SNL sketch.

As I watched and collected the ones I liked, I noticed that the same actress kept showing up in my favorites. She was always referred to as “Kelsey” and it wasn’t hard to figure out that she was Kelsey Gunn.

So I have become a fan. Why? I don’t know – she is funny, of course, and has that nerd-girl pretty quality. So now I’m subscribed to her on Facebook and watch her Vimeo Channel and  follow her on Twitter and watch her 5 Second Films, and See what she’s up to on IMDB (She’s Actually Kelsey Gunn (II))

Will Kelsey Gunn ever become famous and win Oscars and stuff? Is Batman a Transvestite? Who knows?

Oh, here she is at 2:16 in  “Meter Maids” – I’m not too sure about her Southern Redneck accent (but then again, I am a cono-sewer of the type) but the “Sexy Dance” is up there.

WordPress Blogs:

5 Second Films: Wasting Your Time, But Not as Much as This Article

Forget The Lengthy Summer Blockbusters. Michael Rousselet Talks To Kevin & Bean About 5-Second Films

The Joy of 5 Second Films

5 Second Film’s “Another Spider”, w/ the 5SF debut of Juliette Lewis

5-Second Films With Patton Oswalt        –      Part Two

Favorite YouTubers

5 Second Films Compilation

5×20 Seconds of Fun

Sweet Gender Divide Bro