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Matt Weinstock, Oct. 6, 1959

October 6, 2009 |  4:00 pm

Irony Backfires

Matt Weinstock     A great despair has settled on Jeffrey Rimmer of Garden Grove.

    Not long ago he became outraged at what seemed a miscarriage of justice and wrote this letter, which a paper printed: "By suspending the wealthy attorney's jail sentence  for killing two old people in a drunk-driving and hit-and-run case, and fining him $5,000, the community benefits in three ways: The people will be saved the expense of keeping one more inmate in prison; two senior citizens have been eliminated from possible public aid; the $5,000 will aid the redistribution of wealth, contributing materially to our prosperity."

    The letter, of course was intended as biting sarcasm.  But after it appeared he received several indignant calls and letters from people who had taken him literally.

    "WHAT KIND of person are you?" one man asked.  Rimmer tried to convince him that they were on the same side in deploring the outcome of the case but he doesn't think he got through.  "Evidently people aren't reading Swift, Voltaire and Anatole France any more," he concludes.
    Any newsman could have warned him about irony --  saying one thing and meaning the opposite.  Literal-minded people don't understand it. 


    CLEARLY, word mangling is the theme for today.  A lady I know, with a batch of published songs to her credit, says she's giving up lyric writing. 

    "I listened to the junk on the radio again the other day and that did it," she said.  "The formula seems to be to take one meaningless phrase and keep repeating it and you get rich.  I spend hours, sometimes days, reaching for the right word.  I can't compete with them.  It isn't worth it."


Seems like the way
        we know
Which day it is anymore
Is to recall the TV show
We saw the night before.
                --MATTIE RAE


    A MAN WHO attended a meeting of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy became so interested he said he wanted to make a contribution.  "I have to tell you," Fletcher Markle, TV producer, said, "unfortunately it isn't deductible."  Then he added, "But neither are human beings."


    IN WHICH connection a pancake chef named Joe was demonstrating his technique to a few admiring friends in a downtown eatery the other morning and let go with an outer space flip which he claimed had never before been attempted.  At the peak of its orbit the gooey hotcake disintegrated and Joe, solemnly watching the blobs of batter descend, said philosophically, "A little fallout never hurt nobody."


    THERE'S A STORY going around about a hard-working but poor native with an ugly wife.  He is very devout and cannot understand why his lot in life is so bad while a worldly unbeliever he knows has every luxury, including 10 beautiful wives in his harem.

    One day, unable to bear his degradation any longer, he climbs to the top of a mountain and appeals to the heavens for a sign that his prayers are being heard and that deliverance from his ordeal will come and justice will be done.

    A vision appears and out of the sky an impatient voice thunders, "Like you're fighting me, man!"


FOR HIS birthday Sunday Baron, 11, went to see the ballgame at the Coliseum with a  chum.  Afterward, in telling about it, he was asked how he managed to get tickets. "Oh we didn't have tickets," he said, "we climbed trees."  "Could you see from there," he was asked.  "Wasn't that too far away?"  "Oh, no," was the reply, "we rented binoculars."  Never underestimate the resourcefulness of a small boy... And a girl named Ardie, seeing a  picture of one of the upcoming small American autos about which she'd heard so much, exclaimed, "Gosh, it looks just like  a car!"