August 9, 2014

The fine lines between stupid, clever – and various other things...


SPINAL TAP’S “SMELL THE GLOVE” PRINCIPLE:

“It’s such a fine line between stupid…and clever.”
       The legendary saying from the mockumentary This is Spinal Tap (1984) 
       This “quote” actually combines parts of consecutive lines spoken by two characters in the movie: Spinal Tap’s lead singer and rhythm guitarist, David St. Hubbins (played by Michael McKean) and the band’s bass player, Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer).
       In the scene, the band members and their manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra) are discussing the fact that the latest Spinal Tap album, Smell the Glove, had been criticized as sexist and banned by major retailers for featuring a photo of a greased, naked woman on all fours wearing a dog collar around her neck. Meanwhile, the album of a rival musician, Duke Fame, was selling well even though it had photos of several naked women on the cover. Ian explains that Duke is shown tied down and the women are whipping him in his album cover photo. Thus, Duke is the “victim,” so it’s not sexist.
       Ian notes: “If we had all you guys tied up, that probably would have been fine...But it’s still a stupid cover.”
       David muses: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and...”
       Derek finishes the thought and creates the famed “quote” by adding: “And clever.”
       David agrees: “Yeah, and clever.” 
       And, thus, the legendary saying was born.


THE CONGRESSIONAL VARIATION:

“There’s a fine line between irony and hypocrisy. I’m not sure our political leaders in Congress understand either one. But at least that makes for some fine comedy!” 
       From a July 31, 2014 post on The Center for Justice & Democracy’s PopTort.com site 
       The post was about the news that the U.S. House of Representatives had passed a resolution authorizing Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for what Republicans say has been inadequate enforcement of “Obamacare” – the health care program they oppose.
       (Cartoon by Steve Sack, political cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)


THE CLIVEN BUNDY VARIATION:

“There’s a fine line between a folk hero and a scofflaw.”
       Editorial by the Nashua Telegraph, April 25, 2014
       Commenting on Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, who had about “15 minutes of fame” for publicly thumbing his nose at federal laws and regulations regarding grazing of private cattle herds on public lands and refusing to pay the fees required to use those lands.
       (Cartoon by Milt Priggee.)


ERMA’S OBSERVATION:

“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt…How do you know laughter if there is no pain to compare it with?”
       Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
       American humorist, newspaper columnist and author 
       From her book If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (1985)


BLANCHE’S OBSERVATION:

“There is a fine line between having a good time and being a wanton slut.”
       Actress Rue McClanahan (1934-2010) as the character Blanche Devereaux
       In an episode of the TV series The Golden Girls


THE FISHING VERSION:

“There’s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.”
       Steven Wright
       American comedian
       A widely-repeated joke Wright used in his stand-up comedy routine in the early 1990s. It now appears on posters, t-shirts and other items and hundreds of Internet graphics and posts.


THE GARDENING VERSION:

“There’s a fine line between gardening and madness.”
       Actor John Ratzenberger, as the character Cliff Clavin
       In an episode of the TV series Cheers 
       This one is for my wife Barbara Jo, a certified Master Gardener who spends much of her time maintaining the amazing subtropical botanical garden she created in our front and back yards – and for all those other avid gardeners out there who will understand why the joke is funny.

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