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"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1939) is a short story by James Thurber. The most famous of Thurber's stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939, and was first collected in his book My World and Welcome to It (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942). It has since been reprinted inJames Thurber: Writings and Drawings (The Library of America, 1996, ISBN 1-883011-22-1), and is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories in American literature. The story is considered one of Thurber's "acknowledged masterpieces". It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role, though the movie is very different from the original story.
The name Walter Mitty and the derivative word "Mittyesque" have entered the English language, denoting an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not. In military circles, this usually refers to people who try to fake an impressive career. The story had an influence on other humorists, notably Mad founder Harvey Kurtzman (who borrowed the story's sound effects), playwright George Axelrod (who employed Mitty-like fantasies in The Seven Year Itch) and animation director Chuck Jones (who created a Mitty-like child character for Warner Bros. cartoons).
If you haven't read Thurber, you owe it to yourself to do so. Thurber along with Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman and the wonderful Dorothy Parker were among the members of the Algonquin Round Table were a group of uniquely American Humorists who would meet each day for lunch from 1919-1929. Since most of the attendees were writers, it was inevitable that their stories would spread through their writings of the time.
When I first saw Danny Kaye in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," I said I am vindicated! If this imaginary life is good enough for Thurber, it's got to be good enough for me. I've often imagined these fantasy stories that lived in my own head. One day, about a month after I had invented the Nom de Plume, JelloMarx, about six months after the diagnosis. I decided to let Walter Mitty escape, I wrote "Jello in the land of Oz." Through many incarnations later, and with the help of Sarah Palin, it became, "The Magnificent Maverick of DC."
Other characters danced through my mind. One of my favorites was The Right Reverend Snark of the first Church of the Internet.
These characters and stories have given me enjoyment. I also hope that others have enjoyed them. Although this story might be dated by now, here is "The Magnificent Maverick of DC."
The night that John McCain first asked Sarah Palin to be his running mate, she had a weird dream. She dreamt that she had been taken from her home was somehow transported from Wasilla, Alaska and landed in a mysterious land called Washington, D.C.
As she exited the house with her pet Moose, named Veto, she heard giggles. It was the strange inhabitants of this land called Republicans. It seems that Sarah had landed just in time to be the 51st vote to defeat the Health Care bill of the Wicked Senator from the left.
Then suddenly, from out of nowhere came Air Force 1. Out steps Laura Bush, in a puffy dress carrying a wand.
Laura: are you a good Washingtonian or a Bad Washingtonian?
Sarah: Who me? I’m not a Washingtonian at all. I’m Sarah Palin from Alaska. Who are they.
Laura: They are the Republicans. They have come to welcome you to Republican land.
For you are their hero. You just defeated the Health Care Bill.
The Republicans began to sing.
This is a day of Independence
For all rich people and their descendants
Let the joyous news be spread
National Healthcare at last is dead.
Hooray! the Bill is Dead
Which old Bill?
The Health Care Bill!
Hooray! the Health Care Bill is Dead.
Thank you- Insurance Lobby, deny that claim, disallow that test.
Thank you, the Health Care Bill is Dead. It’s now part of History
Thank Sarah- Sarah- Sarah. She’s helped us defeat Hillary again.
Hooray- we’ve won again, yell it loud, yell it clear.
Let them know
The Health Car Bill is Dead!
We represent the Christian Coalition, The Christian Coalition, The Christian Coalition
And in the name of The Christian Coalition
We Wish to welcome you to Republicanland.
We represent the Gun Lobby, The Gun Lobby, The Gun Lobby
And in the name of The Gun Lobby
We Wish to welcome you to Republicanland.
Suddenly in a puff of smoke and a pants suit, arrives the Senator of the left.
Hillary: Who killed my bill. Was it you?
Sarah: It was an evil bill. It favored the poor.
Hillary: This isn’t over, I’ll get you my pretty, and your little Moose too.
So on the advise of Laura, Sarah decided to walk the Green Mall to seek the counsel of the Magnificent Maverick of D.C.
Shortly down the path Sarah sees a man in a Paul Stuart Suit, with golden cufflinks on his monogrammed suit.
Sarah: You’re obviously a lawyer. So why do you look so happy.
Lawyer: I’m one of the lucky ones. The law school forgot to give me any ethics.
Sarah: I’m going to see the Magnificent Maverick of D.C., maybe he can use you in his administration.
Lawyer: Even without ethics? I’ve often thought what would I do with ethics if I had them.
I don’t want to work Pro Bono
That’s always been my Credo
I need my Mercedes Benz
And My Haircuts they cost Plenty
So it’s really elementary
I have no need for any friends.
I take a large retainer
Financially I’m the gainer
Their futures I portends
You are clearly narcissistic
So let’s not be unrealistic
You will never make amends
Oh, I wear silken ties
And Thousand dollar suits
With the judges I am often in cahoots
So I win all the Lawsuits
I am just a bottom dweller
Can not accept a failure
I take any large stipends
So it’s ethics I avoidI’ll never represent the unemployed
Or those who need to wear depends.
So Sarah has found a traveling companion.
As they continue their sojourn, they come across the famous fat, right wing radio talk show host.
Sarah: What troubles you, talk show host? The Republicans are still in charge and we just defeated a major piece of Liberal Legislation.
Talk Show Host: My, friends, I was born without a sense of humor.
When a Conservative has no wit
He’s nothing but a twit
And he cannot sell what he airs
Just because I’m the fool
The one who’s always so uncool
I’m the one without fanfares
I’d be funny, I’d be charming
And often times even disarming
And laugh at Fields and Marx
I would have drinks with all the boys
And make fun of all killjoys
I’d have retorts for all remarks
Picture me a crowded bar
A raspy voice says low
Hey Moe, Hey Moe
I throw a pie, Oh My
Just to laugh at Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Woody Allen
My life would be awoke
Maybe understand the joyless
love of the French for Jerry Lewis
If I could only tell a joke
Lawyer: We’re off to see the Magnificent Maverick of D.C. I understand that he has placed Whoopie Cushions all around the White House. Maybe he can teach you what is funny.
So off the three friends went. A little slower now due to the largess of the Talk Show Host.
As they get closer, they cross paths with the famous fundamentalist preacher, The Far Right Reverend I.M.A. Phony.
Yeah, I know I blamed Katrinas
On Men misusing their own Weiners
against Gods will they serve
so listen all you sinners
don’t be losers be all winners
sleep with Sally and not Irv..
You have tried all of the ruses
With no plausible excuses
Said the Lord you don’t deserve.
Therefore, I want all sinners censured
(Talk Show Host)
Liberals all be indentured
And all my capital ventured
If the Maverick is a Maverick we deserve
Then I’m sure to get some cash
(Talk show Host)
Finally as they reach the home on Pennsylvania Avenue they are granted an audience with the Magnificent Maverick. But where is he. In the oval office is a curtain, coming from behind the curtain is a familiar voice.
Veto, charges the curtain. It’s Joe Lieberman behind the curtain. He has no power here.
Lawyer: So what have you learned Sarah?
Sarah: There’s no place like Nome!