Saturday, October 30, 2010

Private SNAFU

Between 1943 and 1945, Warner Brothers animation studios produced a series of black and white, sometimes rhyming instruc- tional shorts for the U.S. Armed Forces that starred Private SNAFU—a bumbling, cautionary tale of a character created by Frank Capra, sometimes written by Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and voiced by Mel Blanc. Hard to imagine American troops being trained via rhyme? Check out these examples.

Rumors (1943)

Spies (1943)

The Chow Hound (1944)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

200 Toasts from Mlle. Mixer

From Blatz to bourbon and mead to martinis, a drink or two can loosen the tongue of even the most reluctant rhymer, helping in the process to produce all sorts of non-pragmatic rhythms and language play ranging from dirty limericks to national anthems.

It's no surprise, therefore, to come upon an anthology like 200 Toasts—the little 4 x 6 paperback pictured to the left and copyrighted by Mlle. Mixer in 1917. Here are some highlights from the Mix Mistress so that you're not left tongue-tied at your next soiree:


God made man as frail as a bubble,
God made love, and love made trouble,
God made wine, and is it a sin
For a man to drink wine to drown trouble in?


Let schoolmasters puzzle their brains
With grammar and nonsense and learning.
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives learning a better discerning.


The Frenchman loves his native wine,
The German loves his beer;
The Englishman loves his 'alf and 'alf
Because it brings good cheer.
The Irishman loves his whiskey straight
Because it gives him dizzyness;
The American has no choice at all,
So he drinks the whole d--- business.


Laugh at all things, great and small,
Sick or well, at sea or shore.
While we're quaffing, let's have laughing,
Who the d--- cares for more?


While beer brings gladness, don't forget
That water only makes you wet.


Here's to we two and you two; if you two love we two,
As we two love you two, then here's to we four;
But if you two don't love we two, as we love you two,
Then here's to we two, and no more!


Here's to our wives and sweethearts;
May they never meet.


The world is filled with flowers,
The flowers are filled with dew;
The dew is filled with love,
For you, and you, and you.


Beggars who walk, princes and queens who hide,
In skull-and-bone land saunter side by side.


Here's lovers two to the maiden true,
And four to the maiden caressing;
But the wayward girl, with lips that curl,
Keeps twenty lovers guessing.


There is a riddle most abstruse,
Canst read the answer right?
Why is it that my tongue grows loose
Only when I grow tight?


If on my theme I rightly think
There are five reason why men drink;
Good wine, a friend, because I'm dry,
Or lest I should be, by and by,
Or any other reason why.


Love is sweet, but oh! how bitter
To love a girl and then not git her.