Thursday, June 07, 2007

What are the odds?

"Up to the time I first met Leo Guild I thought that figures went into sweaters and not books."
-- Bob Hope, from the foreword to What Are The Odds by Leo Guild.

Originally published under the title "You Bet Your Life" in 1946. Until, I bet, Groucho sued the crap out of Leo Guild and made him change the title. And I hope he bankrupted him.

I know it was a different time, but jesus, this book misses no opportunity to objectify or belittle women. In fact, it manufactures quite a few.

On the cover, a stupid statistic on nail-biting is illustrated by a man easing his sexual tension by gnawing off macaroni-sized hunks of fingernail. Also, "heat prostration" is illustrated by a bald, middle-aged man getting all het up watching an exotic dancer.

Inside, there are gratuitous insertions of ... oh, just read this:

I suppose with most of the women's faces veiled there isn't much else they can do, i.e. necking, but in Constantinople each man, woman, and child smokes 2 cigarettes a day. This consumption is larger per capita than any other city of the world.

Probably more children necking there too.

Much of it is framed as questions submitted by readers of the guy's newspaper column.

Mrs. Winifred Pierce Gonzales of Brooklyn, N.Y., writes: What are the odds that I will find a pearl in an oyster during my lifetime?
Now, Mrs. Gonzales, isn't it easier to get your husband to buy you a string of pearls? You'll think so when you hear the odds. A famed Eastern oyster opener says it's a million to one against you.

Arg:

What are the odds of a secretary marrying her boss?
About 70 to 1 against it, but George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling, David Lloyd George and Jules Romain all fell victim to their secretary's charm.

A book not to be cast aside lightly, as Mrs. Parker said.

Something I didn't know, though - that kangaroo mascot has a name. She's "Gertrude," and she is "your guarantee of the best in reading."