The Major and the Minor

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

One of Mrs. Salad's Netflix pix, and she made a good choice this time. I surprised myself with how charmed and amused I was while watching this classic screwball comedy.

As the movie begins, Miss Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) is not making it in 1941 New York City. She's an in-home scalp-massager (really), and when a randy client (Robert Benchley) gets the wrong idea, she decides to pack it in, go back to small-town Iowa, and settle for the young man who's (apparently) still waiting for her.

Problem: she can't afford the full-fare train ticket from NYC to Iowa. So she poses as an almost-12 year old! She manages that well enough to get on board, but her fraud is soon detected, and she has to deceive Major Philip Kirby (Ray Milland), a teacher at an Illinois military academy, in order to avoid getting tossed off the train.

Hence the Major/Minor title. Complications ensue, of course, since this is a screwball comedy. Susan finds herself enmeshed in the workings of Kirby's school; she fools everyone, save for Kirby's fiancee's younger sister.

Yes, there's a little bit of dancing. I think this was part of the Hays Code: if Ginger Rogers is in a movie, she's gotta dance.

This was Billy Wilder's American directoral debut, and he also co-wrote.

The Scary Campaign, 2016. Boo!

It's Halloween! While Pun Salad usually concentrates on how phony our presidential candidates are, 'tis the season that reminds us that they are also quite scary. But how scary? Let's ask the Google:

Query String Hit Count
"Donald Trump" scary 16,300,000
"Hillary Clinton" scary 13,800,000
"Jill Stein" scary 611,000
"Gary Johnson" scary 326,000

Unsurprising. When we did this in the past, we observed:

  1. Our "phony" hit counts are dwarfed by the "scary" hit counts. For Hillary and Trump, it's an order of magnitude difference! What that means, in terms of the country's mood is obvious: months of negative ads predicting the dire results of the Other Person winning has turned us into a nation of quivering sheep huddled in a dark corner.

  2. I tend to favor the "Wizard of Oz" hypothesis myself: people find these guys scary, but they're actually just phony.

But I could be wrong. So let's dip into the Google results to see what people are saying:

  • At the Independent, Kirsty Major warns "If you think Donald Trump is scary, take a look at his kids". As a bonus, there's a Halloween allusion:

    They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and so it is with Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The son of the Republican presidential hopeful and his first wife Ivana Trump has got himself into a spot of trouble by using a bizarre Halloween-urban-legend-esque allegory to compare Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles. “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you three would kill you, would you take a handful?” read an image he tweeted, with a picture of a big bowl of the popular sweets for emphasis. “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

    OK. What else? Well, the WaPo's David Ignatius advises us: Don’t be fooled — Donald Trump’s foreign policy is as scary as ever". And the gay-themed Advocate will run down "Donald Trump's Scary Supreme Court Picks". (Not LGBT-friendly at all.)

    And then there's the NYT, doing its bit for linguistic analysis last year, finding "95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue". Sample:

    While many candidates appeal to the passions and patriotism of their crowds, Mr. Trump appears unrivaled in his ability to forge bonds with a sizable segment of Americans over anxieties about a changing nation, economic insecurities, ferocious enemies and emboldened minorities (like the first black president, whose heritage and intelligence he has all but encouraged supporters to malign).

    Scary! Democrats prefer more dialog more appealing to rationality, like "He is going to put y'all back in chains" or resurrecting the 1964 he's-gonna-nuke-us "Daisy" ad.

    From that last link: "Daisy", now 52 years older, says, predictably "And to see that coming forward in this election is really scary."

  • So what about Hillary, our second-place finisher? Quite frankly, the stuff that Google turns up is pretty mild in comparison. Theory: people opposed to Hillary tend to subscribe to the Bene Gesserit litany against fear: "Fear is the mind-killer". And we don't like our minds killed.

    But it's out there. Example: Josh Barro, writing at the ad blocker-hostile Business Insider reals "This is what scares me most about a Hillary Clinton presidency". It's relatively staid, given the massive decades-long record of Clinton-based corruption:

    If anything goes badly wrong in the world over the next four years — not terribly unlikely under any president, given all the upheaval in Europe and China — I'm worried that voters will look at the webs of influence surrounding Clinton and be more inclined to be suspicious that problems affecting their livelihoods have arisen because of self-dealing by elites.

    Suggestion: replace "be more inclined to be suspicious" with "correctly conclude".

    Even back in 2014, Mr. Leonard Benton of the Havok Journal described "What Scares Me About President Hillary Clinton".

    Hillary Clinton is 66 [now 69] years old, but age doesn’t scare me. What scares me is that she reminds me of Doloris Umbridge in the Harry Potter books; she knows what is best for you and she will make you understand it. I can see her now forcing parents to carve her name into their own children–figuratively, if not in practice. What also scares me about Hillary is that she has been a sideline member of the political machine from 1979 until 2013 and she is so far out of touch that she believes her own hype and thinks she is the gift we deserve and need. 22 years as the wife of a Governor then President, a Senator for 8 years, and finally Secretary of State for 4 years. She has ridden the coat tails of her husband through all these events and the Clinton machine is a powerful political machine. Is it enough to get her into the White House? I dearly hope not.

    But for the real clincher, see Steve Chapman at Reason: "Clinton Is a Threat to the 2nd Amendment—and the 1st"

    Donald Trump is a clear menace to our democratic form of government, the rule of law and my James Madison bobblehead. The teenage Ted Cruz could recite the entire Constitution from memory. Trump wouldn't know it from Two Corinthians.

    But it's not exactly safe to entrust your copy of the Constitution to Hillary Clinton, either. You might get it back with some parts missing or mutilated—like the First Amendment and the Second.

    I sometimes think she'd look for a way to quarter soldiers in houses without the owner's consent, just to have another Amendment to traduce.

  • Things are even milder for Jill Stein. Why, one "J Clifford" tells us at Irregular Times that "No, Jill Stein Is Not The Scary Leftist Wacko Democrats Say She Is". But there are many, many links revealing who Jill thinks is scary:

    Presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein believes Hillary Clinton would be a more dangerous president than Donald Trump, because while Mr. Trump says “scary things,” the former secretary of state actually does them.

    Give Jill some stopped-clock points for correctness here.

  • Last but not least, my candidate, Gary Johnson. "Judy M" at the dreadfully earnest Care2 site details: 7 Scary Facts About Gary Johnson (And One Awesome Fact).

    Spoiler: not a single one of the "scary" facts is actually scary. ("He Supports the Keystone XL Pipeline." Eek!? "A President Johnson Would Get Rid Of Obamacare." Aieee!?).

    The awesome fact:

    Johnson has run 17 marathons, four Ironman Triathlons, is an active rock climber, and has climbed the seven highest summits on every continent, including Mount Everest (just after breaking a leg!). His doctor writes that Johnson, who weighs 172 pounds and has normal blood pressure and pulse, exercises about an hour a day.”

    When I think about exercising, I often say: "Nah; Gary's doing enough for both of us."

Wishing you a non-scary Halloween. Or at least one that's less scary than Election Day.

Last Modified 2016-11-04 10:04 AM EDT