Oy Vey Day genre: He Said, She Said & Tongue-In-Cheek

Oy Vey Day is a recurring posting here at Thought Theater. It's strictly lighthearted and meant to bring a smile or a chuckle. Strange as it may seem, even though I grew up in an Italian American Catholic home, I've always felt some kinship with Jewish culture and familial dynamics. Perhaps it's the notion of guilt that both seem to embrace or perhaps it's the numerous unique expressions and insightful conversational banter that is found in both Italian and Jewish cultures. Regardless, I've always had a curiosity for Jewish or Yiddish terminology. I have a few books that list many of these expressions and offer insight into their origin and meaning.

Today's posting is from the book Meshuggenary, written by Payson R. Stevens, Charles M. Levine, and Sol Steinmetz. I've chosen to share some Samuel Goldwyn expressions. Samuel Goldwyn, of the famed Hollywood company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has always been one of my favorite people to quote. The first time his words really caught my attention was when his death was announced. In reporting his death, the news mentioned a few of his better known Goldwynisms. The one that stood out was, "If you think you need your head examined, you need your head examined". I've found many of Goldwyn's expressions to be similar in nature to the countless Yogi Berra-isms.

The following has been taken from Meshuggenary:

Yidisher Kop: Goldwynisms and Other Mind-Benders

Der yidisher kop - literally, the Jewish head - works in mysterious ways. Yiddish has countless down-to-earth but semi-cryptic expressions that are like koans to make you wake up and think: Oyb mayn mume volt gehat redar volt zi geven a tramvay (if my aunt had wheels she'd be a trolley car).

Some of the best-known mindbenders originated from the yiddisher kop of Samuel Goldwyn (1882 - 1974), the famous Hollywood mogul who never lost his Yiddish accent and mindset. Like a Yiddish Yogi Berra ahead of his time, Goldwyn became famous for sayings like "Gentlemen, include me out" (on quitting the organization) and "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on". Here are some other classis Goldwynisms, which demonstrate the enduring and charming sarcasm of this famous Yiddish wit:

Don't pay attention to the critics - don't even ignore them!

I can answer you in two words: im-possible.

Our comedies are not to be laughed at.

I don't want any yes-men around me. I want everybody to tell me the truth even if it costs them their jobs.

I read part of the book all the way through.

If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive.

Never let that bastard back in my office again - unless I need him.

Next time I want to send an idiot on some errand, I'll go myself.

Spare no expense to make everything as economical as possible.

The wide screen will only make bad films twice as bad.

They didn't release that film; it escaped.

We're overpaying him, but he's worth it.

Why should people go out and pay to see bad movies when they can stay at home and see bad television for nothing.

Daniel DiRito | April 7, 2006 | 9:01 AM
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