Jim Ingebrigtsen



I have always been fascinated by authors who have the ability to pen a humorous phrase. Two of my favourite authors who had that gift were Raymond Chandler, best known for his hardboiled crime fiction character Philip Marlow, and Robert B. Parker, best remembered for the Spenser novels in much the same genre. Both characters were as “tough as a nickel steak” as Parker once wrote.

I was trading some of these one-liners with my friend and diversified versifier and one of Canada’s most entertaining poets when he soundly beat me with a fist full of Chandler lines. The following are just some of the more memorable:

  • It was a small windowless anteroom on the furnishings of which a great deal of money had been spared.
  • Her hair was a hot sunset. She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.
  • On the floor lay a rug as thin as silk and as old as Aesop’s aunt.
  • He wore a blue uniform coat that fitted him the way a stall fits a horse.
  • The coffee shop smell was strong enough to build a garage on.
  • Fuzz grew out of his ears, far enough to catch a moth.
  • A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wildflowers fighting for life on a bare rock.

Raymond Chandler. Photographer uncredited. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.
Raymond Chandler. Photographer uncredited. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

  • His composed gray face was long enough to wrap twice around his neck.
  • She wore a hat with a crown the size of a whiskey glass and a brim you could have wrapped the week’s laundry in.
  • He wore an ascot tie that looked like it had been tied around the year 1880.
  • The nose was spread over his face like syrup on a waffle.
  • Blood began to move around in me like a prospective tenant looking over a house.
  • His hat was about two sizes too small. He wore it about much like a house wears a weather vane.
  • He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.
  • His breath was heavy enough to iron a shirt with.
  • We looked at each other with the clear innocent eyes of a couple of used car salesmen.
  • I lit a cigarette. It tasted like a plumber’s handkerchief.
  • He hoisted a couple of eye brows that would have interested a Fuller Brush man.
  • I felt relieved, like a flagpole sitter after the wind dies down.
  • “I don’t like your manner,” he said in a tone you could have cracked a Brazil nut on.
  • It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.
  • • •

Chandler died in 1959 just four chapters into his newest novel Poodle Springs. Robert B. Parker finished it in 1989 thus, he shares authorship with Chandler.

Jim was a writer-broadcaster and producer on television and radio for 40 years. He is also a podcast host on Lifestyles 55 Digital Radio. Find Radio Redux, Mid-Century Memories and many others at www.whatsupwinnipeg.ca/lifestyles-55digital-radio/