Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers

I've been debating about whether or not to do this for some time, but when I read Bilbo's blog today and he decided to talk about Tom Swifties, I decided that I'd go ahead with it.


I don't know if Dr. Seuss is as popular among beginning readers today as he was when I just a wee bairn (ask fiona what it means), but he was oh, so much more than those bad movies The Cat In The Hat and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. If you didn't grow up reading Dr. Seuss, then your life is not as full as it should be.

My all-time favorite Dr. Seuss book is called Oh Say Can You Say, and it's a book of tongue twisters. I mentioned this once several years ago to my wife and, being the wonderful person that she is, she saw to it that a copy of the book ended up among my birthday gifts the next time it rolled around. As a 40-something year-old guy at the time, you might think I'd consider a kid's book as something of a gag gift. If so, then you don't know me at all. I was thrilled, and this book is right up there on my bookshelf along with all my grown-up books (including the complete Winnie The Pooh).


I think these show the brilliance of Dr. Seuss as much as any of the more famous books he wrote. Maybe this one wasn't as popular because it's challenging in a different way than most of his books (read up on loraxes some time). This book challenges on a more physical level and less on a moral or intellectual one. And by the way, if you think that Dr. Seuss' writing isn't normally intended to relay a moral or intellectual message, then you're just skimming the surface (same with A. A. Milne and Winnie The Pooh).

Most of the tongue twisters are very easy to read to yourself. The difficulty comes in saying them aloud. Even reading them aloud can cause you stumble.

Some of them don't actually have much of a twist until the very end, when you're rushing toward the finish:

One year we had a brunch
with Merry Christmas Mush to munch.
But I don't think you'd care for such.
We didn't like the mush munch much.


Dr. Seuss' excellence as a wordsmith is in the seeming simplicity of these words that he runs together in ways that would never, ever have occurred to me:

The storm starts
when the drops start dropping.
When the drops stop dropping
then the storm starts stopping.


Some of them consist of the more familiar tongue-twister formula of using very similar words in new ways that are just freaking hard to say:

Bed Spreaders spread spreads on beds.
Bread Spreaders spread butters on breads.
And that Bed Spreader better
watch out how he's spreading...
or that Bread Spreader's
sure going to butter his bedding.


One tongue-twister that I memorized some time ago didn't come from Dr. Seuss. I'm not sure of the origin, but since I'm in a tongue-twister mode here, I'll share it with you:

A tooter who tooted a flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot or
to tutor two tooters to toot?"


But that one is child's play compared to some of the ones in this book. As you might have guessed, it's also marvelously illustrated with classic Dr. Seuss creatures and people, adding to its appeal. This last one may be my favorite from the book:

Upon an island hard to reach,
the East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks that he's the best beast.

Which beast is best?... Well, I though at first
that the East was best and the West was worst.
Then I looked again from the west to the east
and I liked the beast on the east beach least.

Blogs are amazing things. They can even get a middle-aged guy to admit that he still occasionally reads Dr. Seuss and Winnie the Pooh.

39 comments:

fiona said...

I'm with you!
Scoot LOVES Winnie the Pooh and his language skills were greatly enhanced by Dr Seuss. I would read and he would say the last word in each line.
Green Eggs and Ham is still one of his favourites! We have everything A.A. Milne and The Dr ever wrote methinks.

Herb of DC said...

WOW! I'd completely forgotten about that book! Must purchase soon!

Thanks for the reminder!

Gilahi said...

fiona - Wonder why they've never gotten around to making a "Green Eggs & Ham" movie? It would have to be better than The Cat in the Hat.

Herb - You're welcome! We live to serve.

GreenCanary said...

I most definitely need to work "butter his bedding" into today's conversation.

Gilahi said...

GC - See? I told you there was intellectual stuff in Dr. Seuss' writing.

And I'd love to hear that conversation.

Mike said...

"Blogs are amazing things."

That they are.

Gilahi said...

Mike - Glad we can agree on that. I've been so "amazed" lately that I can't come up with anything to write about.

Bilbo said...

Having now had the delightful experience of reading Dr Seuss stories to both my children and grandchildren, I feel like a Seuss expert. I think I can recite "Green Eggs and Ham" in my sleep...

LiLu said...

Winnie and Dr. Seuss were both HUGE for me... as was Peter Rabbit and all the Beatrix Potter stories.

I can't wait to read them to mine someday...

Mike said...

"that I can't come up with anything"

You have to have a separate file going at all times. When you blogging brain is flowing put the extra stuff in the file for later when your blogging brain goes dead.

Gilahi said...

Bilbo - Yeah, my daughter was more of an Edgar Allan Poe fan. Still is. Although she did have something of a penchant for Shel Silverstein.

LiLu - Glad to know that he's still having an impact. It would be sad if his work faded away.

Mike - There's a thought. Now if I can just get out from under the bone-crushing burden of my job for an hour or so, maybe I'll jot down an idea or two. Thanks.

D.C. Confidential said...

I knew there was a reason I like you!

Only the smartest people read Seuss and Pooh. Ergo, you are among the smartest people.

Gilahi said...

DC - Well... I'm certainly among the people, and some of them must be the smartest, so yeah, I guess I am among them.

Katherine said...

Now I'm all inspired to go read Green Eggs and Ham. I adore that book...

Gilahi said...

Katherine - Will you read it in a box? Will you read it with a fox?

Yo! said...

Dr. Seuss was a genius, plan & simple. I actually memorized quite a few of his works when the kids were little...I read them over & over & over again!

Gilahi said...

Yo! - Yes, I can't remember the Gettysburg Address nor the Preamble to The Constitution, both of which I had to memorize in school, but I can remember Dr. Seuss. I think that says a lot.

Eudea-Mamia said...

Read "Cat in the Hat," for the 100th time, tonight to the Oldest. The and "Oh the Places You'll Go," both favorites of his.

I too was more a Shel Silverstein gal.

And the Preamble to the Constitution? Pick up a DVD of "School House Rock" - sing together with me "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union..."

Gilahi said...

EM - Lucky kid. "Where The Sidewalk Ends" was one of my daughter's favorites.

I did my share of Schoolhouse Rock. I can't imagine that re-memorizing the preamble will benefit me in any way other than being one of those boring show offs at parties.

Eudea-Mamia said...

Oh, I'm not so boring...;-)

Gilahi said...

EM - I didn't mean to indicate that you were. I doubt very seriously that you recite (or sing) the preamble in social situations. You see, I would.

Kate said...

Is it bad that I thought really naughty things about the bed spreaders one?

Gilahi said...

Yes, Kate, it's very, very bad. You'll feel better if you tell us all exactly what you were thinking. Be specific. Details, we want details.

Eudea-Mamia said...

Depends on how much I've been drinking...

Gilahi said...

EM - Yeah, we should all get together, have a few, and sing some night.

Mike said...

Are you sick? Too busy at work? (no excuse, screw work) Did your wife find your porn and your depressed? Did Fiona call you an eejit?

I could go on but I'm just here to change your comment count and confuse people.

Gilahi said...

Mike - It's good to be missed, thanks. I was ill and now I'm so compressed at work that at the end of the day I just want a bourbon and some television. Maybe not even the television. I hope to get back in the saddle soon, but blogging has had to take a back seat for a bit.

Cyndy said...

I was hired to play for "Suessical the Musical" at a high school this weekend. It's fun to see the way they combined the various books. I'm going to have to go back and read them all again now.

Gilahi said...

Cyndy - Enjoy. Try to put yourself into the mindset of a 5 year old.

Narm said...

If Dr. Suess is wrong I don't want to be right. I buy my nephews Dr Suess things for every holiday.

And don't be talking shit on the Grinch! C'mon now!

Gilahi said...

Narm - Oh yeah, I forgot to mention those horrible Horton movies.

Godinla said...

I've read every Seuss book that I could find (including The Seven Lady Godivas). I am a Seussaholic, if such a thing exists and by God it must. He is, by far, my favorite writer. If you run into either of my children, even as a total stranger, and say "The storm starts-" they will finish it for you. Later, they will call me and tell me all about the coolest weirdo they met today.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and look for me to drop in here again.

God

Gilahi said...

God - That's terrific! The world is a lesser place since Mr. Geissel has left it.

I do hope to get around to posting something again soon. I've been very absent lately due to a variety of factors, but I do have a couple of things stewing.

fiona said...

Where are you?
I miss you.
AND I never called you an eejit...did I?

Gilahi said...

fiona - Thanks. I'm just not feeling very inspired to write lately. I hope it comes back. I'm jotting down a few ideas and I haven't forgotten that you tagged me. Honest.

And no, you never called me an eejit, at least to my face.

fiona said...

Oh come on now!
Shake it up darlin!
Luv ya ;)

Gilahi said...

Working on it....

graciela said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Joannah

http://windscreensite.com

Gilahi said...

graciela/Joannah (if those are your real names) - Thanks! I'm afraid I've gotten to the point that I don't write all that often, but I appreciate you stopping by and hope you will continue to do so.

 
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