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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How To Solve Unsolved Enigmas

1. Let us begin with the disappearance of Manners The Butler. As a child, I was fascinated by him --his politeness, poise and, for a man of his stature, surprising ability to comfort with paper products those to whom life had been discourteous. Observe:

YouTube, Manners
My more imaginative siblings opined Manners may have tried to demonstrate paper products for the kitchen or bathroom and disappeared down a drain. I, however, kept to the simplest explanation and believed the dog dragged him off. I did not trust the dog and would look closely at the screen to see if he had any business in his eye, but resolution was poor in the 1950s. Readers' theories on what transpired are welcome.

2. Our second example of unsolved enigma coincides with our first. I invite you to examine an illustration of a scene well over 200 years old. Why? Let me say simply that often, in investigation of an enigma, we find ourselves back where we started. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves back before we started and this is such a case. Observe:

Here we have a scene depicting the arrest of a franctireur, a sharpshooter, accused of being rather good with a musket during the Franco-Prussian War. Nonsense intrudes! As a young man I target-practiced with an antique flintlock from Napoleon's time and what with black powder igniting in the flashpan by my right eye and no rifling in the barrel, I was at a loss to hit anything I aimed at except by accident. Then between 10-15 minute muzzle-loads, I had to guesstimate charge, ramrod wadding, insert the ball, ram down more wadding to keep the ball from just rolling out and then adjust the flint-clamp until I got a spark out of it --followed by a report like two washtubs falling downstairs. This was no firearm for a sharpshooter. Ergo,  Johann Lasch's excellent tableau is somewhat romanticized. However, the dog is not.

I believe, after careful examination in good light, that the dog in Lasch's illustration is the same one found centuries later and suspected of carrying off Manners The Butler and throttling him --which gives onto our 3rd enigma.

3. Could this dog be an agent of household, domestic and international reform? Had Carl Johann Lasch or Kleenex followed the activities of this animal farther --perhaps to the savaging of obnoxious miniature butlers and arresting officers, might we not have a more accurate historical account? I welcome all help here.


29 comments:

  1. I have it on good authority that Manners the Butler made a paper airplane a flew to Cabo for vacation. He is stranded there because the plane was washed away by the tide.
    The franctireur is a more puzzling case. However after a bit of investigation the dog was simply asking the way to San Jose... not the easiest translation into French.
    This poor dog has been a misunderstood character for far too long. All he wants is to tour the world. He seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Any other evidence is circumstantial.

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    1. Excellent analysis, Emma. I believe the phrase, "Do you know the way to (Savez-vous la route de) San Jose?" is translated by dogs as "Arf Arf!" from both French and English.

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  2. Or is the dog evidence of a visit from shape-shifting aliens? Just checking, in the most unobtrusive way they could devise.
    In which case I refuse to speculate about the probing that poor Manners may have been subjected to...

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    1. My experience is, dogs loved to be accused of being impostors and having their fur suits vigorously checked for zippers, but shape-shifting aliens often do not.

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  3. Rumor hazzit that he's a distant cousin of Lassie - - once removed. Or perhaps twice removed. Since the mini butler was never seen again after making the commercial, and since the dog had indigestion for a week, I fear the worst.

    My first thought about those antique flintlocks is that should be manufactured and utilized again. It would help deter crime.

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    1. Jon, I've concluded the flintlock offered very little more security to its operator than to its target. In those days, gun safety consisted of keeping them mounted over the fireplace.

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  4. If we can't turn all swords into plowshares perhaps we can swap all the other armaments for flintlocks. What a weapon that was! Pity the early hunter. No wonder the Pilgrims were hungry.
    As for Mr Manners-what a gentlemen he was. Isn't there an old back lot legend that after a bad contract negotiation with Kleenex he became Rick Moranis' acting coach as he prepared to play Wayne Szalinski?

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    1. "Honey, I shrunk the butler?" There may indeed have been a sequel with that title.

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  5. I have no answers to offer, but am enjoying suggestions put forward in the other comments. :)

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  6. No, no, the dog is innocent. He most definitely is a Lab and would never knowingly hurt Manners. Of course, he might have licked him to death or Manners drowned in his slobber that the napkin could not absorb.

    The dog's long ago relative was going to do the same and save the day for his owner.

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    1. I tend to agree, Arleen. Lasch titled the scene "Capture..." but didn't say whether it was a successful one or not. Given that the arresting officers are greatly outnumbered, I'd go with not.

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  7. You make a compelling case, but I think a blunderbuss would be a better choice.
    I'll probably stick with Occam's Razor, but your methods seem sound.

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    1. Good point, Mike. Occam's law of parsimony is especially useful in arguing down propositions that depend on superfluous ontological apparatus. I suspect the blunderbuss is such an apparatus.

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    2. Yeah, the blunderbuss is for those who think aim is secondary, and making a statement is more important. Maybe your point get's across, but those on the fringe get it just the same....

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  8. A musket that fires a tennis ball would be a dog's favourite and perhaps make more sense? Of that particular weapon if not the overall enigma :-)

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  9. It's a very small matter, but I'd completely forgotten about good ol' Manners the butler. Yet, when I watched the video, I still remembered its wording. Scary. (Most commercials were more fun and memorable back then than they are now.)

    I submit that Manners simply found another line of work when he realized people weren't all that interested anymore. He and his pal Common Sense are currently enjoying a prolonged vacation on a very small island in the South Pacific.

    I reckon the term "sharpshooter" is all a matter of perspective. He couldn't compete against today's weapons, but maybe he was the best with what was available at the time. (And yeah, granted, "best" is a matter of perspective, too...)

    Fun post, dude.

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    1. Thanks Susan, excellent ideas! I wonder now if Manners might have confounded perspective by always standing farther away than he seemed to be.

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  10. I believe Manners may have been lured away by the Queen as a combination of toy and nanny for a young Prince Charles. I'm sure he was much happier as marketing paper napkins seems beneath a man of his refined senses.

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    1. You could very well be right, Chicken. It's also possible he withdrew from the product --the napkins cling to peoples' laps but there's no mention of how to remove them.

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  11. Perhaps you have inadvertently provided the answer to your tinnitus, Geo. Shooting off that weapon couldn't have helped your eardrums. Damage is cumulative, I think, so you got off to a roaring start and added to it every day since. I am actually being serious, as I know it's a serious issue.

    Unseriously, for a moment, since Manners the Butler was in his heyday when I was just a baby, and in any case we did not have a television until approximately ten years later, I feel I am poorly qualified to discuss this enigma. However, I won't let that stop me. I believe that the issue of the dog is definitely a case of reincarnation, and that his most recent incarnation is as a youtube "talking dog" as seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j41bb5LdA5U

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  12. O Jenny, I watched the talking dog clip and am convinced your theory is correct! Even showed it to Norma --who was skeptical but I told her the dog's mouth movements were not a trick, nor were its reactions. The film is a little masterpiece. As to tinnitus, I am currently puzzling specialists and hanging on to my sanity. As a gardener, I used loud machines for 35 years, so I think you're right there too. Early days yet, and much to solve.

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  13. I think the "hanging on to sanity" must be the difficult part. I hope there is help for you in the very near future. And I'm glad you enjoyed the clip :)

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    1. Dear caring Jenny, I admit my sleep is fitful and there have been tears, but my higher brain functions are intact. I am getting professional help from several directions and pursuing my own research in the matter as well --plus, I am a tough old dude. I'll be ok.

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  14. Oh, for the commercials of old. What happened to Mr. Manners? WELL, I think that he may have fallen into some Kleenex product and was brutally murdered. What can I say...sometimes these things happen.

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    1. Susan, I recall my sister once opining Manners got flushed down the commode. I was stunned. Was she speaking generally and metaphorically? More enigmas. I believe you and her, but it's nearly 60 years later and his undampened spirit mysteriously lives on.

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  15. Oh, Manners would soooo be a chew toy.

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    1. Good point! I believe polite society refrains from chewing on butlers but the pet dog might lapse.

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