Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet Quaquaversal

Hey, that offhand remark about "sheesh," a fairly common expression, reminded me that I should tell you about my new friend "quaquaversal." You'll find that word several times in George Singleton's WORK SHIRTS FOR MADMEN. One of the great comic conceits of the novel is the way the word seems to jump from character to character like a virus. Anyway, we like to tell you when we find new words, even if John Cheever just made them up and tricked us. Oh yes, the recurrence of sheesh reminded me of something else: the last two movies that Theresa and I watched (before MCCABE & MRS. MILLER) were CITY FOR CONQUEST starring Jimmy Cagney and THEY GOT ME COVERED starring Bob Hope. Well, in the former, a minor character uses the phrase "strictly from hunger." In the latter, Hope walks into a Hungarian restaurant and says, "strictly from Hungary." So, it was a well known phrase, common enough for Hope to play around with. I've heard that phrase in a lot of old movies and the meaning seems pretty clear, I think (it seems to refer to something you do because you need the money, not because you're moved with inspiration). I feel as if I've seen it prominently featured (maybe in the title?) in an essay by S.J. Perelman or Woody Allen or somebody. Well, anyway, that's a funny old phrase that's been popping up around the house lately, in case you care. I hope you don't! P.S. I had up a nice picture of Brett Somers, but "The Man" decided it belonged to him and took it away! Hey, I just thought of another connection: George Singleton wrote a great short story in which a minor Flannery O'Connor character spends his time watching MATCH GAME on the Game Show Network. Given his novel's references to Sartre, I feel safe in saying that cable TV functions in a NO EXIT capacity for the purposes of Singleton's story - and who knows, maybe in real life! But I like TV.