Monday, October 15, 2018

Home, Jeeves

1940: The man on the left is American journalist Angus Thuermer, an obscure figure now and an obscure figure even then but one whose career choices allowed him to become a bemused witness to history on at least two occasions (he was later a CIA spokesman during the time of Watergate.) The man on the right is not so obscure. It's P.G. Wodehouse, the celebrated author who wrote humorous stories about the British upper-class, most notably those involving the young aristocratic halfwit Bertie Wooster and his supremely capable valet Jeeves, who earned much of his pay bailing his employer out of whatever trouble he had gotten himself into. Wodehouse had been a successful writer for going on three decades now, had earned himself a lot of money, so one might expect this interview to be taking place in some country estate, maybe a penthouse, or perhaps a posh hotel suite, but no, it instead took place in... a German-run prison for enemy nationals.

So how in the world did a man who wrote stuff like this:

“Oh, Jeeves," I said. "About that check suit."
"A trifle too bizarre, sir, in my opinion."
"But lots of fellows have asked me who my tailor is."
"Doubtless in order to avoid him, sir."
"He's supposed to be one of the best men in London."
"I am saying nothing against his moral character, sir.” 

...or this:

Besides, isn't there something in the book of rules about a man may not marry his cousin? Or am I thinking of grandmothers?

...or this:

I hadn't heard the door open, but the man was on the spot once more. My private belief, as I think I have mentioned before, is that Jeeves doesn't have to open doors. He's like one of those birds in India who bung their astral bodies about--the chaps, I mean, who having gone into thin air in Bombay, reassemble the parts and appear two minutes later in Calcutta. Only some such theory will account for the fact that he's not there one moment and is there the next. He just seems to float from Spot A to Spot B like some form of gas.

...or this:

 "Goodbye, Bertie," he said, rising.
I seemed to spot an error.
"You mean 'Hullo,' don't you?"
"No, I don't. I mean goodbye. I'm off."
"Off where?"
"To the kitchen garden. To drown myself."
"Don't be an ass."
"I'm not an ass...Am I an ass, Jeeves?"
"Possibly a little injudicious, sir."
"Drowning myself, you mean?"
"Yes, sir."
"You think, on the whole, not drown myself?"
"I should not advocate it, sir."
"Very well, Jeeves. I accept your ruling. After all, it would be unpleasant for Mrs. Travers to find a swollen body floating in her pond."

...or this:

 “What ho!" I said.
"What ho!" said Motty.
"What ho! What ho!"
"What ho! What ho! What ho!"
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.”

...or this

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'"
"The mood will pass, sir.” 

...end up under the thumb of somebody who wrote stuff like this?:

 The application of force alone, without support based on a spiritual concept, can never bring about the destruction of an idea or arrest the propagation of it, unless one is ready and able to ruthlessly to exterminate the last upholders of that idea even to a man, and also wipe out any tradition which it may tend to leave behind.

--Mein Kampf

The answer is taxation. As Wodehouse sold more and more books, and made more and more money, he despaired at seeing so much of it go to His Majesty's Government, and, as he worked on and off on Broadway and in Hollywood, the Internal Revenue Service. He thought it unfair that both the United Kingdom and the United States should claim him as a resident for tax purposes, so in 1934 he and his wife Ethel moved to Le Touquet in Northern France, and made that their permanent residence (though he remained a British subject). The two were still in Le Touquet in 1939 when France and Britain declared war on Germany. They were still there in Le Touquet in 1940 when the German army found that a shortcut through Belgium allowed them to go around that pesky Maginot Line. They were still there in Le Touquet when the British military skedaddled out of Dunkirk. And they were still there in Le Touquet when, in his own words, “I was strolling on the lawn with my wife, when she lowered her voice, and said, ‘Don’t look now, but here comes the German army.’”

For the first two months of occupation all Wodehouse and his wife had to do was report to German authorities. Then it was decided that all male enemy nationals under the age of 60 (Wodehouse was then 59) be rounded up and sent away. After short lockups in several places, Wodehouse ended up in an insane asylum-turned-prison in Tost in Upper Silesia, in what was then part of Germany (today it's in Poland.) Associated Press reporter Angus Thuermer, based in Berlin (the U.S. had not yet entered the war) got wind of all this, and, sensing a scoop, made his way to Upper Selisia. Since there had been some puzzlement outside of Nazi-occupied Europe as to what exactly had happened to the best-selling author, this was indeed a major story. Diplomatic pressure from the U.S. (where the writer had made a lot of influential friends) was put on Germany to release Wodehouse, or at least find him better accommodations. Hoping it might keep America out of the war, the Nazis chose the latter.

Wodehouse and wife Ethel (who had been allowed to stay behind in Le Touquet) were put up in one of the best hotels in Berlin, paid for through the German royalties of his book. He had been a best-selling author there, too. They also asked him to do them a little favor. Would he please do a few radio broadcasts for The Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (Goebbels' outfit) that would then be aired in the still-officially isolationist United States. Actually, I don't know if they were that polite about it, but Wodehouse agreed. The five broadcasts together were titled How to be an Internee Without Previous Training, and were made up of humorous anecdotes of POW life ("If this is Upper Silesia, I'd hate to see what Lower Silesia is like.") They were essentially non-political, and Wodehouse hardly endorsed the German war effort, but didn't denounced it either.

These didn't just end up getting broadcast in America, where everyone got a good giggle out of them, but also in Blitzed-out England, where Wodehouse's I'm-living-under-Nazi-occupation-LOL tone didn't go over very well at all. His books were removed from several libraries, and newspapers called him a "traitor, collaborator, Nazi propagandist and a coward" and he was said to have "lived luxuriously because Britain laughed with him, but when the laughter was out of his country's heart, ... [he] was not ready to share her suffering. He hadn't the guts ... even to stick it out in the internment camp." As Wodehouse himself conceded at a much later date, "Of course I ought to have had the sense to see that it was a loony thing to do to use the German radio for even the most harmless stuff, but I didn't. I suppose prison life saps the intellect."

The Wodehouses stayed in Germany until 1943, when, thanks to Allied bombing, they were allowed to move to Paris, which is where they were when that city was liberated in August of 1944. The noted British journalist Malcolm Muggerridge, who during the war worked as an intelligence officer with the M16 interrogated Wodehouse shortly thereafter, decided that he hadn't committed treason after all, and had been no more than a 60-year old Bertie Wooster, a rich kid who had gotten himself into trouble. Another intelligence officer gave a more formal interrogation that lasted four days, and came to the same conclusion. Wodehouse was free to go, but go where? To jail, because now the newly-liberated French had him arrested, possibly on the advice of those in Britain who did not agree with their own intelligence agencies' conclusions. He eventually was released in January of 1945, and allowed to leave France in June of 1946. Wodehouse didn't feel he could go back to Britain, where resentment against him still ran pretty high, so he and Ethel fled to the United States, to New York State, to Long Island, and finally, to...    


...The Hamptons (hey, a war refugee has to go somewhere.) Wodehouse became a U.S. citizen in 1955, and continued to have books published on a yearly basis until his death in 1975. Shortly before he died, the forgiving British decided to knight him, but the long trip to his native land (which he hadn't laid eyes on since the 1930s) would have been too much for a man in his 90s. In 1999, a newly released intelligence document revealed that British officials in 1946 had second thoughts about letting him go free, and it was recommended that if he ever return to the United Kingdom, he be tried for treason.

So what to make of all this? Was he secretly a Nazi sympathizer, as some have alleged, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time? Wodehouse wrote 71 books in his life, and gave numerous interviews, but thanks to his witty elusiveness, it's difficult to pin down how he felt about anything. He spent his life writing about the British upper-class, but the magistrate's son, despite the money he made, never actually was one of them. Did he like that upper-class, or despise it? His stories can be read either way. His work has been enjoyed by both liberals and conservatives (as well as fascists and communists.)

My best guess is that P.G. Wodehouse was both Wooster and Jeeves. He could get in trouble, but was supremely capable enough to get himself back out. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Quips and Quotations (Theoretical Physics Edition)

Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.

--Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

That Championship Season

1990: The jubilant-looking man on the left is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The equally jubilant-looking man on the right is Nelson Mandela. What's got them in such a good mood? Well, they're old pen pals who only very recently finally got to meet face to face. It's been about a week since Mandela was released from a 27-year prison stay for championing the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa. If you don't already know, apartheid was the white-implemented policy that all blacks in the country remain second-class citizens. Now, second-class citizenry is hardly something uncommon in world (or U.S.) history, but what made apartheid even more distressingly unjust was that the blacks constituted a majority of the population. How weird is that? Whole cities became exclusive country clubs, that's how weird. Disenfranchising nine out of ten people didn't make much economic sense, either. It's as if you dismantled the Eiffel Tower and then charged to use the observation deck. Anyway, in his time behind bars, Mandela himself became part of the cause he had fought for, and an inspiration for those outside the prison walls, such as Tutu, who helped turn what initially was seen as one nation-state's internal matter into an international outrage.

Apartheid came to an end not too long after Mandela was released, and the former political prisoner ascended to the presidency. As I wrote when he died in 2013, it's up to the South African people to decide how well he did in that job, but one thing is certain, the widespread retaliatory oppression of the white minority never came to pass, as so many in that white minority had feared.

As for Desmond Tutu, he turns 87 today. In recent years he's spoken out against LGBTQ discrimination, and was in attendance when his daughter married another woman in the Netherlands in 2016. He probably figured, enough with the second-class treatment already. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Vital Viewing (Symbiotic Relationship Edition)

The man on the right, actor Walter Matthau, was born on this day in 1920 (he died in 2000.) In 1998, he and frequent costar Jack Lemmon talked with Jay Leno:

I think Matthau was being facetious when he suggested he and Lemmon might have ended up driving or unloading a truck if not for the 1968 film version of The Odd Couple. At that point in time, Lemmon had been a pretty bankable movie star ever since winning an Oscar for playing Ensign Pulver in 1955's Mister Roberts. Matthau had a much slower start, but by his late 40s, he, too, was starting to become well-known. Not only had he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1966's The Fortune Cookie (the first film he appeared in with Lemmon)...

...but originated the role of messy Oscar Madison in the stage version of The Odd Couple, a humongous Broadway hit (that's Art Carney as tidy Felix Ungar, which reminds me, if, as Matthau said, Paramount Pictures originally wanted Jackie Gleason as Oscar, wouldn't it have made sense to pair him with the guy who played Ed Norton on The Honeymooners rather than Frank Sinatra?)

In the Leno clip, Matthau talks about how when making The Bad News Bears in 1976, the child actors he was working with knew only the sitcom version of The Odd Couple and thus Tony Randall as Felix, and Jack Klugman as Oscar

TV's most recent Oscar and Felix. Were they to remake The Bad News Bears a third time (the second was in 2005), I'm sure the child actors would recognize the names of Matthew Perry (Chandler on Friends) and Thomas Lennon (Jim Dangle on Reno 911!) before they would Klugman or Randell.

In 1982, there was an African-American Odd Couple with Ron Glass (Harris on Barney Miller) as Felix and Demond Wilson (Lamont of Sanford and Son) as Oscar. Since this TV version and the earlier one with Randall and Klugman were both produced by Garry Marshall, scripts from the first series were often used (with some black slang thrown in for authenticity's sake.) It only lasted one season.

A Saturday morning Odd Couple.

They have yet to make a movie or TV series based on it, but in the 1980s there was a female Odd Couple in another Broadway version that ran for about a year. Sally Struthers (Gloria on All in the Family) played neat freak Florence Ungar and Rita Moreno (Anita in West Si--aw, c'mon, the woman's a living legend!) portrayed sloppy Olive Madison.

Some have argued that Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen of Two and a Half Men were really just Felix and Oscar with different names.

In 1998, Neil Simon, the man who came up with the idea in the first place, wrote a movie sequel titled The Odd Couple 2 starring Matthau and Lemmon. It flopped at the box office, but I liked it anyway.

However, I like the 1968 movie version, which DIDN'T flop at the box office, much, much more:

Altogether, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon made 10 films together. One more and they would have tied with Fred and Ginger.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Team Players

The man on the left, Fred Astaire, was much better known as a dancer than a pianist, though I suppose if he wants to tickle the ivories, well, it's a free country. Meanwhile, the man in the middle, George Gershwin, was very well known as for his piano playing. He doesn't seem to mind Fred joining in (maybe he's giving him lessons.) The man on the right, George's lyricist brother Ira, is content just to watch. Since photographs are generally silent, I can't say what piece of music is emerging from that stringed instrument, but in 1937 the three of them (along with some blond chick named after a spice) came together for the film Shall We Dance:

They had three more films to go before they called the whole thing off.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Blog Vérité (Microeconomics Edition)

Overheard at Wal-Mart:

Mother: Oh, look, pepper spray! Maybe you should get yourself some.
Teenage Daughter: Eww, that stuff stinks! I'd rather be kidnapped.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Eat, Sleep, Joke, Repeat

How's this for formal dining?

The photograph above was taken in May of 1939 in Los Angeles. A bit ironic that should be the location as the man in the middle with his eyes seemingly closed (probably the camera just caught him at an odd moment--we've all experienced that) was more well known as a New Yorker. In fact, he wrote for The New Yorker. That's Robert Benchley, the magazine's theater critic and a renowned wit (back in the 1920s and '30s, "theater critic" and "renowned wit" were practically synonyms.) So what's he doing in LA? In the last two decades of his life, Benchley was a movie star of sorts, best known for a series of comic shorts where he explained various facets of modern life--modern life as experienced in the 1930s and '40s. And, as a movie star, Benchley naturally got to hang around with other movie stars. The star closest to him on the left in the above picture is Herbert Marshall, who today is mostly forgotten. The closest star to Benchley on the right is debonair David Niven, perhaps not quite as forgotten as Marshall. On the far left is a man who was more a star of stage than screen, though one of the few movies he did appear in went on to become a classic. Don't recognize him yet? Imagine him with a mane and whiskers. That's right, it's Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, the debut of which was still about three months away. The man on the far right tried to be a star in vaudeville but had far more success as a Hollywood restaurateur. That's David Chasen, at whose eponymous eatery this top-hatted wingding is taking place.

Today happens to be Robert Benchley's birthday, one which he unfortunately won't be able to celebrate (he died in 1945 at the age of 56.) We the living have other options, but first the question must be asked, where exactly is he on the forgotten-remembered spectrum? Lately, when I've come across his name in print, it's usually as one of the wits (and critics) at the legendary Algonquin Round Table.  His many essays--he had a wonderfully droll style--can be found in various collections of pre-World War II humor writings, but back when he was still among the living, it was the film shorts as well as supporting roles in full-length motion pictures that eventually drowned everything else out (The New Yorker ultimately fired him because he spent so much time making movies he was missing all the Broadway openings.) Today the best of those film shorts can be found on the internet, proving that he still has a following. As you'll see in this example snagged from YouTube, that following even extends to those who do not speak Benchley's native tongue:

I bet all those subtitles would keep Donald Trump awake at night.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

East Bound and Down, Loaded Up and Truckin'

Burt Reynolds 1936-2018
The 1970s good ol' boy heir to such dashing Old Hollywood screen idols as Douglas Fairbanks, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, and Cary Grant. In the era of the Brooding Method Actor--Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman--his smile, his laugh, his reckless driving, made him stand out. Reynold's own method of acting was to never venture too far outside his comfort zone, and he certainly never expected us audience members to venture outside of ours. No, all he ever asked of us as we sat there in that darkened theater, or even in the comfort of our own home (he was on Carson a lot) was to simply take in the charisma, of which he had a limitless supply. Of course, the 1970s is now as old as Old Hollywood once was (if not quite a myth-laden), and that begs the question, who today is the heir to Burt Reynolds?

Johnny Depp? Dwayne Johnson? Vin Diesel? Robert Downing Jr?

  Ryan Reynolds?

You don't have to answer that if you don't want to. Instead, you can just enjoy this updating of the Robin Hood legend. I'm serious. Burt is Robin, Sally Field is Maid Marian, Jackie Gleason is the Sheriff of Nottingham, and...

 ...the National Highway System is Sherwood Forest.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

In Memoriam: Neil Simon 1927-2018

Writing is an escape from a world that crowds me. I like being alone in a room. It's almost a form of medication--an investigation of my own life. It has nothing to do with "I've got to get another play”  

--Neil Simon

Simon grew up in Upper Manhattan in the 1930s. It wasn't an easy childhood, as his parents marriage was anything but idyllic:

To this day I never really knew what the reason for all the fights and battles were about between the two of them ... She'd hate him and be very angry, but he would come back and she would take him back. She really loved him.

 Simon often took refuge in the movies. He especially liked comedies.

Simon also spent time at the library, reading the works of famous humorists, such as Mark Twain, S.J. Perelman, and Robert Benchley, as well as, and this I suspect may have had a particular influence on him...

...the plays of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

After a stint in the Army Reserves, Simon and his older brother Danny became writers for Robert Q. Lewis, a popular radio star of the postwar period.

The two brothers were hired by television producer Max Liebman to write for this man...

...Sid Caesar

They weren't Caesar's only writers. The TV comedian had the best in the business. This is just some of the writing staff for Your Show of Shows. That's Danny Simon of the far left, standing. On the fa r left sitting and jotting down something on a notepad is Mel Brooks. Immediately to the left of Caesar is head writer Mel Tolkin. And Neil? Why, he's looking right at you!

In 1954, Your Show of Shows went under a kind of reorganization and became Caesar's Hour. Neil Simon wrote for that, too. That's him standing on the left. Standing on the far right is Larry Gelbart, who would go on to create the long-running military comedy MASH.

Though it was far less life-and-death than Gelbart's series, Simon also wrote for a military comedy, The Phil Silvers Show (informally known as Sgt Bilko.)

The final season of Silver was filmed in Los Angeles, a town Simon never liked very much. The problem was, it was rapidly becoming the center of the TV industry. What was Simon to do?

 The answer: Simon would switch from television to the theater. After all, his home town had a rather famous theater district called Broadway.

Come Blow Your Horn, a 1961 comedy about a young man's clumsy attempts at the playboy lifestyle was Simon's first Broadway hit, running for 678 performances.


Premiering in 1963, Barefoot in the Park, starring a young Robert Redford as a frazzled newlywed, was an even bigger hit, in fact, it eventually became Simon's longest running play. It was 1967 when the show finally ended. Today it stands as Broadway's 10th longest running non-musical production.

Corie: My divorce! When do I get my divorce? 

PaulHow should I know? The marriage license hasn't even come in yet!

Ethel:  I had to park the car three blocks away. Then it started to rain so I ran the last two blocks. Then my heel got caught in a subway grating. When I pulled my foot out, I stepped in a puddle. Then a cab went by and splashed my stockings. If the hardware store downstairs was open, I was going to buy a knife and kill myself.

Bellboy: [Dropping newspaper on pile of unread ones outside the door] How long they been in there?
Maid:5 days.
Bellboy: That must be a hotel record.
Maid: For a political convention. Honeymoon record's 9 days.

 The Odd Couple, Simon's best-known play (thanks in large part to the subsequent TV series), which premiered in 1965. A recently divorced man named Felix Ungar moves in with his friend, another divorced man named Oscar Madison. The two get on each other's nerves, resentments and jealousies flourish, as they themselves begin to resemble a married couple (albeit one where the honeymoon is long since over.)

 Walter Matthau, left, played sloppy Oscar, a role he repeated in the 1968 film (and which finally made him a movie star after years of supporting roles.) Art Carney portrayed neat freak Felix. Those of you (and this includes me) who know him as laid-back, somewhat slovenly Ed Norton of The Honeymooners may have hard time envisioning him as Simon's neurotic, lachrymose divorcee. Yet his performance got rave reviews in its day. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have been captured on film or tape, and is thus lost forever. We'll never know how Carney stacks up against Jack Lemmon or Tony Randell.

 Felix:Who the hell do you think I am, the Magic Chef? I'm lucky I got it to come out at eight o'clock. Wh-wh-what am I gonna do?
Oscar: I dunno, keep pouring gravy on it.
Felix: Gravy? What gravy?    
Oscar: Don't you have any gravy?
Felix: Where the hell am I gonna get gravy at eight o'clock?
Oscar: I dunno, I though it comes when you cook the meat.
Felix: [under his breath] Comes when you cook the meat.
[stares at him for a moment]
Felix: You don't know what you're talking about, Oscar. You just don't know, because you have to MAKE gravy, it doesn't come!
Oscar: Well, you asked my advice...
Felix: [explodes] Your advice? You didn't even know where this kitchen was until I came hear and showed it to you.
Oscar: Listen buddy, if you're going to argue with me, put down that spoon.
Felix: Spoon? Haha, you dumb ignoramus, that is a ladle! You did not know that's a ladle!
Oscar: Get a hold of yourself, will ya?
Felix: You think it's so easy? Go ahead, kitchen's yours, all yours, you make a meatloaf for four people who come a half-hour late. Go on.
Oscar: I can't believe I'm arguing with him over gravy.
Felix: [doorbell rings] They're here - the dinner guests. I'll get a saw and cut the meat!

Here's Simon with the man who directed the last two of the above three plays, Mike Nichols.

Some more hits from Simon:

The Eugene trilogy:


Many, many others. As well as books for musicals (Sweet Charity). And screenplays (The Out-of-Towners, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl,) I've just scratched the surface. But I'm going to be away from the computer for the next couple of days, and can't really do the man justice, so let me just try to sum things up. 

In the comment section of a previous post, I jokingly held up television as the highest achievement of Western Civilization. Then less jokingly took it back. I realize TV is looked down upon. Yet that's what spawned Neil Simon. He took the best of sketch and situation comedy writing and left the worst behind. What was that worst? Jokes, no matter how well-written, that exist only for themselves that neither advance plot nor help explain character. Simon plays avoid those pitfalls. The humor comes naturally, the characters don't even realize they're telling jokes. They DO know they're being sarcastic, but in real life, sarcasm is used less to make people laugh than to piss them off. Simon's plays shows how hilarious those pissing matches can be to a third party: We, the audience.

Though they liked him when he first came on the scene, theater critics eventually became the poison pen in Simon's side. As a response he used this time-honored comeback: They hate me because I'm popular. They're might be some truth to that. Critics loath giving in to the mob, which is what mass popularity can come to seem like. But are any of their complaints about Simon legitimate?

Critics have found fault with Simon's worldview. He didn't seem to have one. Simon was no George Bernard Shaw, offering a critique of the larger society that his characters operated in. True, urban angst was Simon's great theme, but in the end that urbanity was mainly a set up for the angst-ridden punch line. Simon occasionally acknowledged that there may be socials forces at work that batted his characters around, but seemed to regard those forces as Mark Twain regarded the weather, which everyone complains but nobody ever does anything about. Civilization is something people clumsily adapt to, but never (clumsily or otherwise) bring about. Instead, the characters in his plays love and argue within it boundaries. Oh, well, maybe that IS a way if critiquing the larger society 

One complaint is that Simon's plays sort of peter out, that there's no third act. It's certainly true his third acts are often the LEAST funniest parts of his plays. He doesn't try to top his own jokes as he nears the finish line. In addition, I personally have noticed a kind of ambiguity. The characters may achieve a truce of sort, but the play's central conflict remains basically unresolved. Oscar and Felix remain pretty much the same at the end of The Odd Couple as the beginning. You can't imagine Oscar ever straightening up, either his life or his apartment, and seems doomed to one day asphyxiate under his own debris. Felix may end up with the Pigeon Sisters at the end of the play, but they'll eventually tire of him. It certainly won't turn into a ménage à trois; that would be too untidy for him. There's a resolution of sorts in The Sunshine Boys. The two elderly vaudevillians finally admit they don't like each other! But I don't really have a problem with any of that. As is the case with many, many humorists, Mark Twain and James Thurber included, Simon's jokes may mask a more basic pessimism. Simon himself once said:

 I think part of what made me a comedy writer is the blocking out of some of the really ugly, painful things in my childhood and covering it up with a humorous something to laugh until I was able to forget what was hurting.

He made us forget what was hurting, too.