On December 21, 1950 in a letter to Burroughs Mitchell of Scribner’s , Norman Mailer declared that the title to James Jones’ great war novel –From Here to Eternity –was  an “awful title.” If you agree or disagree with Mailer’s assessment give yourself 150 points. If, however, you are asking: Who is James Jones? Who is Norman Mailer? What was Scribner’s? What war is being referred to? – then perhaps publishing is not the best choice for a profession for you.   **


Why didn't I go
Into demolition and carting?
Unfortunately, my readers
Believe I did.

LIT CRIT #87986954
Some readers adore it,
Some readers abhor it.
I mean by it,
Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit.



The following sentence (perhaps spoken by a young child to his or her mother who has brought a book to read) ends with 5 prepositions:

Why did you bring that book I did not want to be read to out of up for?

The following sentence contains the word had 10 times in succession:

Jane, where her classmate had had ‘had’ had ‘had had’; ‘had had ‘ had a better effect on Jane’s teacher.


   Every word in this line is authentic.


Is it possible that you knew beforehand that this sentence would not contain your name?

 How will you know that this sentence will ever end unless you read it all the way to its conclusion?


If I ask myself what single piece of literature gave me the most pleasure in 1961, it was an article in the Scientific American called “Cleaning Shrimps. W.H. Auden. London Sunday Times (December 24, 1961)    

“What was the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?”            “The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel,” which was given to me on the 17th birthday. It opened a door in my mind, and behind that door I found the room where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.”   Paul Auster   from THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW (Sunday, January 15, 2017)  

I don’t know if I wanted to be a writer, which is why I liked Jo March, or Jo March was a writer so I wanted to be a writer too. But I did the thing you can only do with books as a child, where your own autobiography and the contents of a book merge.   Greta Gerwig in TIME (December16, 2019)

In the decades since “Little Woman”was published, children’s novels with black girl heroines have also been published –- “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; “The Bluest Eye”; the works of Virginia Hamilton and Octavia Butler. But they do not possess the assumption of lingua franca that “Little Women” is given in cultural conversations. I do not know many who ask, for example, “Are you a Lauren?” in reference to “Parable of the Sower.”   Kaitlin Greenidge. “The Bearable Whiteness of ‘Little Women” in The New York Times (January 19, 2020)  


Everybody’s a critic. Right before coming to trial, Adolf Eichmann Remarked to his jailer    That Lolita was  “Quite an unwholesome book.”  Nabokov had offended  Eichmann ’s high moral standards.  

Louis Phillips      “In 1981 two books, Hemingway’s Reading 1910 –

1940 and Hemingway’s Library  gave scholars their first systematic view of Ernest Hemingway’s lifetime of reading. The two books, which overlapped at points, listed over nine-thousand titles which, at one time or another, passed through Hemingway’s hand.”   Michael S. Reignoel. “A Supplement to Hemingway’s Reading 1810-1940” in Studies in American Fiction, volume 14 (Spring 1986)  

hProbably the most seminal thing in my life was growing up and discovering the OZ books. I was about twelve or thirteen before I finally had to face the fact there was no way to get OZ. Ronald Johnson (poet)   One reads in order to ask questions.       Franz Kafka   Quoted by  Alberto Manguel. A History of Reading (Viking Penguin, 1996).              

“The experience of reading it for the first time is hard to describe. It’s like driving all night deeper into Georgia and finding yourself in a well-lit room with fantastic and familiar shadows on the walls, with an illuminating liquor sliding down clean inside you, telling things about yourself.”                Patricia Lockwood describing what it is like to have read Carson McCuller’s novel THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFÉ:        

Reading is a form of pleasure. Pleasure seekers, of course, take their pleasures in different ways and with different styles. The reading of an obsessive person differs from that of a hysteric. They produce different texts. Using psychoanalysis, we can differentiate classes of readers: the fetishist, the obsessive, the paranoiac, the hysteric.     Vincent B. Leitch DECONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. Columbia University,l983. P.113.            

The novel’s ability to seduce readers with its alternate, and invariably more attractive, versions of reality was much lamented in the 19th century. Thomas Jefferson blamed literature for encouraging “a bloated imagination, sickly    Book Review (April 2, 2017)    

A man lay dying, a vet recalled. He knew, or must have suspected, it was all over for him. From his trouser sidepocket he removed an ASE (American Services Editions) copy of Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. As his life ebbed away, he read the novel: the bullets and shells whizzing overhead, the dead, dying and soon to die all around him. ‘It was so strange, so strange.’   John Sutherland, describing a veteran’s report of observing a soldier dying on Omaha Beach on D-Day.  Magic Moments (2008)    

A friend of ours traveling tourist on the Flandre decided that he would like to make Stendhal’s “Le Rouge et le Noir” his shipboard reading. accordingly , he repaired to the tourist-class library, where he found Balzac, Diderot, Pascal,  deMaupassant, and, any another eminent author, but no Stendhal. When our friend asked the librarian about this, he was informed, “Ah, monsieur, Stendhal is where he belongs –in first class.   “Talk of the Town,” in The New Yorker (April 11, 1959).  



I believe it was admitted by Scott
That some of his novels were rot.
How different was he from Lytton
Who admired everything he had written.
E. C. Bentley 

The initial C stood for Clerihew. Bentley's middle name became the name of
the 4 line light verse form that I am quite attracted to). In addition to Clerihews,
Bentley wrote mysteries, such as TRENT'S  LAST CASE.  Reading that mystery,
T. L. Baker observed:

...Bentley varies the 'verbs of saying': Thus avoiding monotony, but it also makes 
the writing more crisp in character. Examples of the device are: ' hinted';
'urged';' persisted'; 'grumbled'; 'observed'; 'inquired'; 'resumed'; 'reasoned'; 
'suggested'; 'admitted'; 'chuckled'; 'amended'; 'interjected' 'ventured'; 'ended' --
each appropriate to the context.
T. L. Baker, "E.C. Bentley: Trent's Last Case" in Notes on Chosen English Texts
Interjecting myself into the conversation about Trent's Last Case, I grudgingly admitted that I had chuckled, grumbled, and observed, but I admitted I had not
reasoned. Some listeners hinted, others urged that my manners be amended.

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Thisprominent member of British Parliament and the
author of Reflections on the Revolution in France (l790) , once said,
"Strip majesty of its exteriors (the first and last letters) and it
becomes a jest." Who was he?


1. “Hearts that don’t beat very much?(5  letters)

          by Timothy Polin

2. “Home squatters? (4 letters)

        by Ross Trudeau

  3. Group that’s on the take? (6,4)

             by Jaeh Pahk 

4. Most things on it might be taken as a

Matter of course. (4 letters)

        by Frank W. Lewis

5. hairstyle for a gunslinger?

         by Andrew Zhou

6. Helps for short people, for short

             by  Ori Brien

   7. What a historical librarian might do?  March this way, perhaps. (4,4)

            .   by Frank W. Lewis







 6. ATMS



       The other day I was standing in the gift shop for the American Museum of Folk Art, or some such place, and my attention was immediately drawn to  two new cookbooks on the market: THE GONE WITH THE WIND COOKBOOK and THE CASABLANCA COOKBOOK.
     Unfortunately, I was with a friend who was famished for lunch, and so I had to abandon the store before I had the opportunity to scan the recipes therein. I can only imagine titles such as  Tomorrow is Another Salad or Play It Again, Spam (and, yes, I know the line "Play it again, Sam" is not in Casablanca, but legend is always better than reality). What's next I wondered -- THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS COOKBOOK?  No, that was, even for my bizarre sense of humor, too shocking to consider.
     Still, all through lunch with my friend, I could not help but think that the fad of creating cookbooks to go with famous movies has not yet been fully explored. 
   In the near future, the following cookbooks are certain to go on sale:
l. THE  ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE COOKBOOK -- this book is certain to appeal to those persons who like  to explore the ethical implications of cooking and serving foods.  The dishes appear good on the outside, but are actually not wholesome on the inside.
   For example, "Lobster a la Mode" -- At first glance, the sight of moldy apple pie garnished with juicy flakes of lobster might appear to be appetizing, but further thought will probably warn us away in favor of something more traditional. 
2.  THE MACHINE GUN KELLY COOKBOOK -- This book features foodstuffs shot full of holes. Don't overlook "Up Against the Wall Swiss Cheese Fondu" -- a particular favorite on Valentine's day.
3. THE WAR OF THE WORLDS COOKBOOK -- or surprising things you can create with bacteria.
4. KRAMER VS. KRAMER COOKBOOK -- He cooks a dish one way; she cooks it another. Lawyers are called in to decide which of the two recipes will be served. Fun for the entire family.
5. THE GODFATHER COOKBOOK -- imagine the thrill your houseguests will feel when they wake up each morning with a baked horse delicately served in their bed.
6. THE HOME ALONE COOKBOOK SERIES -- recipes even a twelve year old can whip up. Amazing surprises for the unwary adult eater.
7. THE E.T. COOKBOOK -- In this cookbook, you have to call home to get the ingredients and the directions.
8.  THE JURASSIC PARK COOKBOOK -- Bring dead  foods back to life.
9.  THE TOWERING INFERNO COOKBOOK -- Unfortunately, to properly cook anything in this book you have to set entire high-rises on fire. Hence, most of the recipes  are too expensive for middle-class families. 
l0.  THE JOHN WAYNE COOKBOOK -- Everything you ever wanted to know about cooking  true grits...
11. THE LTTLE WOMAN COOKBOOK—actually a reprint of Lilliput’s favorite collection of Civil War recipes. It recommends the same recipes for larger women, merely serve smaller portions.
Anyway, now that you've gotten the idea, perhaps you can come up with some ideas of your own. I am, as they say, open to suggestions.
Maybe, with a burst of imagination, we can revolutionize the cookbook  publishing industry overnight.


‘ On language, words, word play etc. THE APPLE-SAUCE CHRONICLES


 “It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression “as pretty as an airport”.

     Douglas Adams

Language, according to the anthropologist Robin Dunbar, evolved because gossip is a more efficient version of the “social grooming” essential to animals living in groups.

John Tierney. The New York Times  (Science Times) October 16, 2007


   Horseshoe crabs have lots of eyes, and the species name, Limulus polyphemus, derives from some of them. The two large eyes can be construed as squinting, hence Limulus ,which means  “squinting or aslant” in Latin. A pair of smaller eyes on top of the prosoma are so close together they might be mistaken for a single eye, hence polyphemus, from the Cyclops.

 Ian Frazer. “Blue Bloods” in THE NEW YORKER  (April 14, 2014)




     The word non-hyphenated is hyphenated.


He said it was a pity I had spoken English all my life, because it was so bad for the teeth.

Line from “The Captive Niece” by Mavis Gallant


 In standard English there are only two present tenses – I work, I am working. In English as spoken in white Appalachia, there are three – I work, I am working, I a’working. In black Appalachian dialect there five – I work, I am working, I be working, I a’working – and each has a different shade of meaning.

             Toni Morrison

Time (April 6, 1970)


In 2000, Jeffrey Kacirk’s  book – THE WORD MUSEUM: THE MOST REMARKABLE ENGLISH EVER FORGOTTEN – was published by  Simon & Schuster. Some forgotten  words collected by   Mr. Kacirk are:

l. album nigrum –the excrement of mice & rats

2. awblaster – a cross-bowman

3. bubulcitate – to cry as a cowherd

4. carry-castle  — an elephant

 5. cephalemonacy – divination by using a broiled

                                        head of an ass

 6. feague – to put fingers up a horse’s fundament

 7.  maffle – to stutter



Rin TinTinnitus – Movie dog whose barking leaves fans with ringing in their ears for hours after the movie is over.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HAYDEN – A noted Doctor has a second personality who composes symphonies.

“I had my nose removed,” Pinocchio said with a
straight face.
If a building has occupants, can it also have occushirts?
Pinnocc-Ohio – The state that grows larger whenever one of
its citizens tells a lie.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Distance who?
Distance is a waltz, but the next dance is a tango.
What’s the difference between a doorman and a fashion designer?
One closes doors while the other adores clothes.

l. ABC DEFtly spoken by a young child is pleasant to hear.
2. Do you fly KLM? NO.
3. Run to heR , STU, Very quickly.


April 11, 2014

I totally like John McWhorter’s like of like. Like wow! The Grammar Police can whistle in the wind because the English
Language is stronger than all of us. It goes its own way.  
     Speaking of its, what’s with the its and it’s problem. Many of  my college students confuse  it’s for the possessive. But, think about it –it’s for a possessive is logical, since all possessive cases use the apostrophe S.  If you wish to know when it’s
denotes it is, placement in the sentence will make it clear.
Perhaps the confusion between its and it’s will eventually disappear. Like totally.


America's noted humorist  James Thurber once noted, "On a recent night,
tossing and spelling, I spent two hours hunting for another word besides
'phlox' that has 'hlo' in it. I finally found seven." Can you?
Possible answers:
l. Decathlon
2. Pentathlon
4. Chloroform
5. Monthlong
6. Matchlock
7. Chlorine
8. Chlorophyll



Fifth business? Here is the definition that Davies offers in a preface: "Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement, were called the Fifth Business in drama and opera companies organized according to the old style; the player who acted these parts was often referred to as Fifth Business."
Fifth Business in this case is Dunstable Ramsay, a crumpled old history professor with a wooden leg and an interest in mythology, magic and hagiography, who has just retired after 45 years of teaching in a private Canadian boys' school. A report of his retirement ceremony in the school's newspaper has "disgusted" him, not merely because of "its illiteracy of tone" but also because of "its presentation to the public of a portrait of myself as a typical old schoolmaster doddering into retirement with tears in his eyes and a drop hanging from his nose." To set the record straight and illustrate what "the vital though never glorious role of Fifth Business" can involve, Ramsay addresses a lengthy and indignant autobiographical letter to the school's headmaster. Mr. Davies's novel is the letter.
l Here is the definition that Davies offers in a preface: "Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement, were called the Fifth Business in drama and opera companies organized according to the old style; the player who acted these parts was often referred to as Fifth Business."
Fifth Business in this case is Dunstable Ramsay, a crumpled old history professor with a wooden leg and an interest in mythology, magic and hagiography, who has just retired after 45 years of teaching in a private Canadian boys' school. A report of his retirement ceremony in the school's newspaper has "disgusted" him, not merely because of "its illiteracy of tone" but also because of "its presentation to the public of a portrait of myself as a typical old schoolmaster doddering into retirement with tears in his eyes and a drop hanging from his nose." To set the record straight and illustrate what "the vital though never glorious role of Fifth Business" can involve, Ramsay addresses a lengthy and indignant autobiographical letter to the school's headmaster. Mr. Davies's novel is the letter.
The story it tells revolves around a misaimed snowball thrown late one afternoon in 1908 in the tiny Canadian village of Deptford. As it turns out, the lives of all five of the people involved in the incident are forever defined at the moment it happens.
It is not immediately apparent that they are. Percy Boyd Staunton, who throws the snowball, will grow up to marry the town's beauty and become one of the richest, most powerful men in Canada. Mary Dempster, whom the snowball strikes in the back of the head, will become a simpleton, the town's "hoor," and possibly a saint, too. Her husband, the Reverend Amasa Dempster, will live on for a time. Paul Dempster, whose premature birth is brought on by the impact of the snowball, will grow up to be the world's greatest magician. But certain paths will cross again and the incident will be resolved.




        Like most film-makers I have spent more time on movies I have not made than on ones that I have.

      John Boorman


I told Dale: "When I go, just skin me and put me on top of Trigger." And Dale said, "Now don't get any ideas about me."   Roy  Rogers

Epigraph to Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins (New York: Bantam Books. 1976)

CARRY ON CLEO carries the following credit: Based upon an idea by William Shakespeare.  (Carry On Cleo is a 1964 British comedy film, the tenth in the series of 31 Carry On films (1958–1992). The website ICONS.a portrait of England describes Carry On Cleo as “perhaps the best” of the series.[3] Regulars Sid JamesKenneth WilliamsKenneth ConnorCharles Hawtrey, and Jim Dale are present and Connor made his last appearance until his return in Carry On Up the Jungle six years later. –Wikipedia)

DRAGON SEED (1944)…the Chinese simple-folk characters are played by Katherine Hepburn, Turhan Bey,Walter Huston, Agnes Morehead, Hurd Hatsfield, Akim Tamiroff, Aline MacMahon, and Henry Travers.   The New Yorker. “Goings On About Town: Movies”
(September10, 1973)             

Love Story. yes, I saw it on tv. I never laughed so much in my life, what a ridiculous hunk of pretentious phoney shit but looking at it as pure comedy it was magnificent, if you know what I mean. I guess each scene before it arrived. You know the world is really a long long way from solving ANYTHING when they gulp in this kind of tripe and admire it…      Charles Bukowski in a letter to Carl Weissner (March 23, 1973).  SELECTED LETTERS, Volume 3 (l971-1986) London: Virgin Books Ltd. 2004.    

It’s always been my formula to get the next picture set up before anyone’s seen the last one.  Alan Rudolph, Director of “Breakfast of Champions”    **  

The notion of these two characters falling rapturously, romantically in love is virtually revolting.’   Bosley Crowther, reviewing The Iron Petticoat, starring Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn.          

BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARINGBUZZ CUTS   Headline for Manohla Dargis’s review of Clash of the Titans NY Times (April 2, 2010)   **  

Here’s one of the few rules in movies which matter: an actor won’t last as a leading man unless he plays characters who want something passionately.  Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster want power, and Buster Keaton and Clark Gable want girls. Gary Cooper and James Stewart seek justice….     David Denby   The New Yorker (January 29,2007)   **    

Beloved Infidel, as a film, left me cold as ice; I couldn’t relate to it. Gregory Peck was completely wrong and Deborah Kerr playing me, was too  finished a product, too sure of herself…and much too thin! You could see her bones in a swimming suit. No one has ever seen my bones. That film was made in 1959, and the person I would have chosen to play Sheilah Graham was Marilyn Monroe. I begged them to give her the part, but Jerry Wald said no.     Sheilah Graham in Playboy (May 1976)                  

There are movies based on comic books, movies based on toys, and even movies based on amusement park rides, burt nothing wears a bigger “hate me” sign on its back than a movie based on a novel written by a celebrity,            Grady Hendrix   Reviewing Ethan Hawke’s “The Hottest State” in  NY Sun (Auigust 24-26, 2007).                  

Scientists agree that half of our world is made up of elementary particles known as fermions and the other half is made up of advertising for “Happy Feet.”                         Grady Hendrix     

Whenever I find myself getting overwrought over problems with one of my films, I would say to myself. “It’s only a movie.” It never worked.  I was never able to convince myself.   Alfred Hitchcock   **

“The most beautiful thing about ‘Donnie Brasco’ is the opening credit sequences. That seems to be the fashion these days. Think of ‘Mars Attack!’ or the violated violin sounds at the beginning of ‘Seven’ or, best of all, the thumping credits of ‘Mission Impossible,’ which were so tense and sexy that you could leave the theatre immediately afterward without having to suffer the letdown of the film itself.”Anthony Lane. The New Yorker (March l7, 1997)

…a gratifying law of movie economics: the greater the frenzy with which money is thrown at         special effects, the less likely they are to linger in the heads of customers.   Anthony Lane. The New Yorker (September 2, 2019)          **

Curiously, the word “Jew” is never mentioned in the DeMille film, nor are the words  “Hebrew” or “Israelite.” Samson’s people are referred to only as “Danites” in what may have been nervousness about anti-Semitism during the McCarthy era.   Philip Lopate. “Samson and Delilah and the Kids.”

Shots of him (Fred Clark playing Marblehead) are always introduced with what may be called a visual rhyme – a buoy, oscillating as his head oscillates (and when his head has an ice-bag on it, the buoy has a seagull).       Richard Mallett, reviewing Don’t Go Near the Water, Punch (February 26, 1958)    

 Not long after the first World War, the movie baron Samuel Goldwyn set up a stable of eminent authors in an attempt to give silent screenplays more literary weight. One of the recruits was the Nobel-Prize winning Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck. Initially neither party seems to have been troubled that Maeterlinck spoke no English; and the great Belgian set to work on a screen version of his novel La vie des abeilles. When the script was translated Goldwyn read it with increasing consternation until he could no longer deny the evidence of his senses. “My God!” he cried. “The hero is a bee!”                   James Meek in The London Review of Books (4 November 2004)

  A movie imprisons your eyes. It acts on you, not you on it. Hence, you don’t “see” or “look at”  a movie. You watch  it  the way a cat watches a bird, until the cat strikes, kills, eats.     Leonard Michaels        

The  Exorcist was a landmark movie, both scary and disturbing. It was also the first and last time a Catholic priest actually wanted to give a woman control over her own body.     Dennis Miller   CLEOPATRA – Forty million dollars worth of Mediterranean splendor and cheap at the price. The leading roles are played by actors who are probably better known than the originals were.           THE NEW YORKER . “Goings on About Town.” July 6, 1963.   **  

 The first time I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo was in 1958, its first run. I was in prep school. And it so moved, disturbed and overwhelmed me by the impact of its images that it altered my perception of life, of art and of myself. The twenty-six times I have seen film since have deepened those reactions.     Donald Spoto    

Wait until you see me in The Bible for John Huston. I’ve only seen thirty-five minutes of it, but it’s something else, something extraordinary. A symphony. It must be extraordinary because I play God three times. I’m a pre-echo of the trinity.   Peter O’Toole   Quoted by Ray Newquist in Showcase (William Morrow& Co.)      

Cinema is the mythology of the twentieth century.          Michael Powell        

Almost honouring Jean-Luc Godard,  (Gilberto) Perez’s discourse has a beginning, a muddle, and an end.       Frederic Raphael. The Benefits of Doubt.    

One always more or less believes to have ‘dreamed’ it when one recalls Claudette Colbert bathing in a pool filled with asses’ milk at the beginning of DeMille’s ‘Sign of the Cross.”   Salvador Dali              

In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine –that’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it s our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.   Nicholas Carr  


Whenever I found myself getting overwrought over problems with one of my films, I would say to myself, “Remember, it’s only a movie.” It never worked. I wasnever able to convince myself.

Alfred Hitchcock . Quoted in Charlotte Chandler’s It’s Only a Movie (Simon and Schuster, 2005)



   The opening music, a fandango, anticipates the crazy dance Cary Grant is about to do across America. The final chase across Mount Rushmore was choreographed in the editing room to this fandango.”

  Bernard Herrmann

Quoted in Charlotte Chandler’s It’s Only a Movie (Simon and Schuster, 2005)The Atlantic (July/August 2008)  

“The commercial cinema is an entertainment or pastime for illiterate slves of an up-to-date ‘business civilization’ founded on mammon. The sham naturalism, the trendy romanticism, the sentimentality on the one hand with its psychological complement — brutality– on the other. The tinned literature and language and music of the cinema have had their big share in the disbasement of the idealistic significance if theatrical performance and workmanship.”              Theodore Komisarjewsky    

Desperate weeks produce disastrous results. Summer’s guarantee top send I/Q’s plummeting is in full swing. So this week at their movies,  the choices were robots running amok; Will Ferrell battling dinosaurs in an alternate universe called the Hollywood  back lot; various wolverines, terminators and ossified Star Trek Xeroxes; and another night trapped in yet another museum with Ben Stiller. I’d rather take my chances exposed to swine flu.   Rex Reed  

“If vacuity had any weight, you could kill an ox by dropping on it Michaelangelo Antonioni’s latest film, The Passenger.”    John Simon      There’s a scene in John Maybury’s new film Love is the Devil in which Francis Bacon has an orgasm while watching Battleship Potemkin. Now that’s what I call a motion picture.       Mark Steyn     **         

I don’t mean to  suggest that film is the source and model of all that is wrong in modern society. But I do think that the world of film, which includes those people who are madly enthusiastic about any film, need to examine very carefully what happens in  our minds when we watch endless violent imagery and feel no wound or repercussions. For one, I am no longer confident that a message has not been passed down to several generations, in their bloodstreams, in their nervous systems and in their trigger fingers.                David Thomson   See THE INDEPENDENT (October 10,2003), p.4.   **

  From Russia With Love. Ian Fleming is the late late show of literature. Perused at the witching hour. The violent adventures and immoderate amours of James Bond, Agent 007 of the British Secret Service, seems as normal as Ovaltine – and rather more narcotic,”   TIME Magazine ( April 10, 1964)  

Whatever happened to the good, honest practice of sticking numerals after a sequel’s title to indicate what number it was in the series? I grew up in the days of Jaws 2, Superman III and Police Academy 7 and, whatever the shortcomings of those pictures, at least you knew where you  stood. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the worse the film in question was likely to be.       

Toby Young    The Spectator, l8 August 200

LUMINOUS DECEITSVerse about movies


 Stanley Donen,

 Reading in the Bible about Onan,

 Thought: “Thanks to Bobby Breen,

 I cannot bring that story to the screen.



Wagon Train

It does not take Einstein’s brain

To describe the plot:

Settlers are attacked; Indians shot.


Fisher, Eddie—

For awhile he was a steady

Husband to a movie star named Liz.

She left him for Richard Burton. That’s show biz.




Selections from 505 Movie Questions Your Friend Can’t Answer by Louis Phillips (New York: Walker and Company, 1983)

1, In France the title of this Cary Grant film was advertised as Grand Mechant Loup Appelle (“Big Bad Wolf is Calling”). By what title is the film better known in the United States?

2. “You have the touch of a sex-starved cobra is a line from what 1942 classic film comedy starring Bette Davis and Monty Wooley?

3. Joseph Keaton, Jr.was Buster Keaton’s birth name. What American magician gave him the name Buster & why?

4. In 1938, what New York Yankee baseball star was offered the chance to play Tarzan in the movies?

5. Who was originally offered the role of Lawrence in David Lean’s epic film Lawrence of Arabia (1962)?

6. After a screen test, a talent scout filed the following report about an actor: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” What dancer/singer and future film star did not measure up to the wrong-headed scout’s expectations?


1. The film is Father Goose (1964) . How a film can go from goose to wolf in translation remains a mystery. The song “Pass Me By:” with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by  Caroline Leigh is sung this film.

 2. The line is delivered in The Man Who Came to Dinner. The film is  based on the 1939 play The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The play’s main character Sheridan Whiteside was based upon author, critic, and radio performer Alexander Woollcott.

3. As a child, Keaton fell down the steps of a medicine show wagon while his parents were performing. Fellow performer Harry Houdini saw him take the fall and said , “That was some buster you took.” The name stuck, and it was Buster Keaton from then on.

4. Lou Gehrig. He turned the part down. Instead he decided to star in the 1939 western Rawhide. He did not become a movie star.

   5. Albert Finny. He turned down the part because it would gave required him to sign a five-year Hollywood contract.

  6. Fred Astaire. No further comment necessary.






On September 24, 1956 TIME MAGAZINE described MAD MAGAZINE as "...a short-lived satirical Pulp..."
     Short-lived? More than 23 years later MAD is still delivering satirical pulp.
      "What, me worry?" -- Alfred E. Neuman

There was a time when parody was a popular literary and visual art (on television in the 1950's Sid Caesar treated his viewers to take-offs on operas and movies (foreign & domestic), but today parody has a difficult row to hoe because fewer and fewer readers or audience members are familiar with the works referred to. (The wonderful and intelligent followers of this blog ,of course,  have no problem enjoying parodies). Throughout its existence  MAD published some wonderful parodies of popular movies and TV shows. I highly recommend MAD's 300th issue (January 1991) with very funny spoofs of GONE WITH THE WIND, DICK TRACY, THE WIZARD OF OZ, and CASABLANCA. 
       The Wizard of Oz parody by artist Sam Viviano and writer Frank Jacobs  includes song lyrics and (Believe It or Not) Donald Trump as the fabulous Wizard of Odds who threatens to change the Tin Man's body to plastic. When the Tin Man protests that plastic is bad for the environment,  The Wizard of Odds replies:

                       Whose environment? Not mine, kiddo!
                       Every sucker in this place carries plastic,
                       which makes for easy credit, which makes 
                       for lots more money coming to me!

One last note. GROAN WITH THE WIND (Artist: Jack Davis, Writer: Stan Hart)
contains this delicious exchange between two slaves on Harlott's plantation Tariff:

                       Slave #1: What do they call it when black folks work
                                           for no pay while white folks get rich from
                                           their labors?
                         Mammy:  In 1860, they call it "Slavery" In 1990, they'll
                                           call it "College Basketball" !
 Is not a word for the imbicili.


Jewish comedy is almost inevitably concerned with things gastronomical. The Jews enjoy talking about food more than any other people. Through many centuries they lived in enforced poverty. If they could not invent food out of thin air, they could at least invent stories and jokes about it to take their minds off their miseries.

Steve Allen. Funny Men (New York: Stein & Day, 1981.

“I listened to the audience , and then told me where the joke was.”

Bert Lahr

Comedians are by nature enemies of boundaries. They live easier by the laws of joy which they create than by the laws of good behavior which society sets down. Their job description is to take liberties – something the public applauds in art but abhors in life.

               John Lahr

Funny isn’t about beauty –it’s about freedom. Sometimes that freedom leads to disrespect, ridicule, and outright offensiveness.

Robert Mankoff. Cartoon editor for The New Yorker

New Yorker

The comedian’s slang for a successful show is “I murdered them,” which I’m sure came about because you finally realize that the audience is capable of murdering you.

Steve Martin. Born Standing Up.

“You may estimate your capacity for Comic perception by being able to detect the ridicule of them you love, without loving them less:  and more by being able to see yourself somewhat ridiculousness in dear eyes, and accepting the correction their image of you proposes.”

George Meredith. Essay on Comedy.



     H. Thomas Henry Huxley, Man’s Place in Nature


Will and Ariel Durant. The Lessons of History

Epigraphs to Cod  by Mark Kurlansky (New York: Penguin Books, 1997)


Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.

T. S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”
Epigraph to The Murder Room by P.D. James

(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)

As soon as possible he (THE WHITE MAN) will tell me that it is not enough to try to be white, but that a white totality must be achieved.

Frantz Fanton, Black Skin, White Mask

Epigraph to Asian American: Historical Crossing to a Racial Frontier by David Palumbo-Liu (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1999


Kissing is our greatest invention. On the list of great invention, it ranks higher than the thermos bottle and the airstream trailer; higher even than room service, possibly because the main reason room service was created was so that people could stay in bed and kiss without going hungry.

             Tom Robbins. Wild Ducks Flying Backward (New York: Bantam Books, 2005)


I was up early last Sunday morning and on the television a man announced he was going to teach viewers some screwing terminology. My wife was sleeping so I thought ‘Well, a little sex education can’t possibly hurt As good as going to church. Boy, was I disappointed. It turned out I was watching THIS OLD HOUSE. I guess that is pornography for persons who are intimate with lumber.


J, as a director made one of the worse casting decisions ever made. He cast a pair of Siamese Twins to play Lady Macbeth, He and the producers believed that such a choice would guarantee a full house at every performance. Unfortunately, rehearsals did not go very well, because the sisters –Irma and Veronica – continually argued over which line belonged to whom.

The director attempted to assign lines, but that didn’t work well, because Irma accused him of favoring her sister over her.

  IRMA: She gets all the best lines.

DIRECTOR: In Shakespeare everybody gets the best lines!

  IRMA:  Oh, yeah! I get to say


The straw that broke the camel’s back (so to speak) was first night of previews when two incidents occurred that

ruined the production and upended the mood of the invited audience and assorted investors. It happened during  the famous Sleepwalking scene, a scene which had been apportioned to Irma in order to counter her accusations about favoritism. During the scene, the envious Veronica fell asleep. Perhaps Veronica believed that falling asleep would add an air of verisimilitude to a the  action, but Irma started her slow descent down a long and highly polished stairs and started to snore loudly, very loudly. Unfortunately, the  audience found the snoring quite funny and no amount of Blank Verse could overcome the peals of laughter. In order to wake her up semi-beloved and semi-conscious sister, Irma hit her sister with the candle and candle-holder, knocking her sister to the ground. Naturally, wherever Veronica goes so goeth Irma, and soon they were both rolling around Macbeth’s castle as if the cavernous room had been created for a roller-derby match. Much hair-pulling, snarling, and name-calling that would have made the three weird sisters jealous. Indeed, language used by the sisters could have taught Shakespeare a thing or do, making up in fecundity what it lacked as blank-verse poetry. Before the sisters could be separated (as it were) by extras who had been lolling behind the drapes, Irma’s dress caught fire from the candle that also had been quite active in the fray, Thank God the stage hands were prompt with the fire-extinguishers and the curtain came quickly down on the unfortunate production.





 Beneath this stone our Bobby lies.
   He neither crys or hollers.
 He lived just one and twenty days
    And cost us forty dollars.
         Burlington Cemetery, Vermont
   Under this Marble, or under this Sill,
   Or under this Turf, or ev’n what they will,
   Whatever an Heir, or a Friend in his stead,
   Or any good creature shall lay o’er my head,
   Lies one who ne’er cared, and still cares not a pin
   What they said, or may say, of the mortal within…
    Alexander Pope, an epitaph he wrote for himself

“I would be satisfied if they wrote on my tombstone, ‘He made people happy.” Charles Schulz, creator of PEANUTS. Quoted in SCHULZ AND PEANUTS by David Michaelis (New York:HarperCollins, 2007)

What noted American entertainer is buried under a tombstone that reads:
                                       THAT'S ALL FOLKS
Answer at the end of this blog.


Ba da bing, ba da boom.
Ba da boom, ba da bing.


"Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation
in the arteries, and increase 'good' HDL cholesterol."
I sd blah blah with charm & wit.
She sd that’s true, so true.
I asked, “What is Truth?”
She replied, “I’m sorry. I must be going.”


Any woman who, through the use of high heeled shoes or other devices, leads a subject of her Majesty into marriage shall be punished with the penalties of witchery.

Seventeenth Century Decree of Parliament


With the exception of chocolate dentures, there’s probably nothing in this world more impractical than glass shoes: their life expectancy must be as short as their discomfort level is horrific. So was Cinderella a naïve ditz, a dingbat with masochistic tendencies?

Tom Robbins. “Slipper Sipping” in Wild Ducks Flying Backward (New York: Bantam Books, 2005).

“I didn’t have 3,000 pairs of shoes. I had only 1,060.”

Imelda Marcos


“He (ED WYNN) had a collection of over eight hundred funny hats and three hundred bizarre jackets and coats that adorned his tall, pear-shaped frame. Also, an important part of his comical getup were his flapping over-sized shoes…”

Stanley Green. The Great Clowns of Broadway (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)



Auto-da-Fe (Portuguese, literally “an act of faith) from the Latin actus, act and fidex, faith. A day set apart by the Inquisition for examining heretics, who, if not acquitted, were burned. TheInquisition burned their victims, being forbidden to shed blood; the Roman Church holding Ecclesia non novit sanguinem (the Church is untainted with blood).

Henry Frederic Redall. Fact, Fancy, and Fable.

Chicago: A.C. McLurg & Co., 1889)


I must unlearn what I have learned,
Undo so much of what I think I know.
No doubt I shall jettison many subjects.
Algebra is the first to go.


John Stuart Mill
Gives students much to mull
Over One idea & the next.
I wonder: can I resell my text?
          River Beds
          Sheets of rain.
          Blankets of fog.
          Who does Nature’s Laundry? 




My friends are texting left & right.
Others are on the tennis courts.
I have to memorize this poem for my English Class.
No wonder I am out of sorts.



One of my favorite writers is Saki. Christopher Morley said of him: “There is no greater compliment to be paid the right kind of friend than to hand him Saki, without comment.”  Here is Saki’s Author’s note to his novel The Unbearable Bassington:

The Story has no moral.
It points out an evil at any rate it suggests
No remedy,


1. The oldest living animal that we have record of lived to be 405 years old.     What species of animal?

 A. clam

 B. snail

 C. Amoeba

 D. tubeworm

2 . Beginning with Larry Corcoran, who pitched in the 1880s) there have been only 6 major league pitchers who pitched 3 no-hitters. Name any 3

on that short list.

3. What does the medical term  “The Great Pretender” refer to?

4. The song :”The Great Pretender” (Ooh ooh yes I’m the great pretender (ooh ooh) was first sung in 1955 by what singer?

5. Talking about singers, Frank Sinatra said, “Sammy’s words fit my mouth the best.” Whom is the Sammy refer to?

6. Who was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington D.C.?

7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a staff

of how many staff  members?

   A)  800  B) 1,300  C) 1,800   D) 2,200 E) 2,800

8) What is the longest river in Europe?

9) To what state in the United States would you

    have to go to in order to visit the Motorcycle

    Hall of Fame Museum?

10) On March 10, 1876 , who said “Mr. Watson –Come here—I want to see you.” Why is the

sentence significant to United States history?

11.  During the Civil War, Union soldiers sometimes resorted to eating Skillygalee to

gain nourishment. What is Skillygalee?

12.  What U.S. city is the only city to be ranked no. 1 as

“The Best Place to Live in America” more than once?

13. In 1949, the very first cartoon made especially for

       television made its appearance. What was the title

       (it is the name of the series’ main character)?

14. Who was the first black American actor to amass a million dollars, much of that fortune  made possible by

his work in films at major Hollywood studios?

15. What word means to cheat by cunning or daze with tricks. According to one dubious etymology, It is a gypsy word meaning to dress a man in bamboos to  teach him swimming. Like the bladders used for the same purpose by little-wanted boys the apparatus is dangerous and deceitful?

16, “Gangway! Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah.”

According to drama critic John Mason Brown, ‘The modern theatre has produced no entrance cue better known or more affectionately remembered. These are words which even when read makes the heart stand still.” What 20th century play is Mr. Brown referring to?

17. This Academy Award winning actor in 1966, the son of

        Milton Matuschanskayasky , described himself as the

        “Ukranian Gary Grant”?

18. What particle, a quantum of light, carries energy proportional to the radiation frequency but has zero rest mass?

19. The NFL Minnesota Vikings placekicker Fred Cox

created the Nerf Football. NERF is actually an acronym. What do the initials stand for?

20. The long-playing musical album “CALYPSO” is said to be the first album by a single artist to sell more than a million copies. Who was the singer?


1. A (clam, named Ming by the scientists who studied him).

2. Justin Verlander, Nolan Ryan, Bob Feller, Sandy Koufax, and Cy Young

3. The Great Pretender is a disorder that mimics real disorders, thus puzzling doctors and medical specialists..

4. Freddy Mercury. On Youtube, Freddy Mercury’s music video of “The Great Pretender”

is the official version of the song.

5. Sammy Cahn, song writer.

6. Thomas Jefferson

7. D (2,200)

8.  The Volga (2,190 miles long)

9.  Ohio (Pickerington, Ohio)

10. Alexander Graham Bell. He was transmitting the world’s first telephone message. Thomas Watson was his assistant.

11. Skillygalee was hardtack (very hard crackers)

  soaked in water, then fried in pork fat.

12. Nashua, New Hampshire (1987 and 1998)

13. Crusader Rabbit

14.  Lincoln Perry (1896-1985). His movie name

        was Stepin Fetchit.

15. Bamboozle

16. The Green Pastures by Marc Connelly

17. Walter Matthau. He said, “Doing a play is like eating a seven-course meal, but a movie is like eating a lot of hors-d’oeuvres. You get filled up, but you’re never quite satisfied.”

18. Photon

19.  NERF – Non-Expanding Recreational Foam

20. Harry Belafonte

(If you get 10 questions right, consider yourself a trivia mavin!)

For readers who enjoy off-beat/fun quizzes my collection of quizzes LA TRIVIATA (published by World Audience) is available from AMAZON.


 A name chain consists of a list of all-well known names with the last name

Forming the first name of the next person upon the list. The challenge is to

get from a given first name  to a predetermined last name in the fewest

possible moves, using well-known names from real or fiction.

    For example: Can you get from BOY GEORGE to GORDON LIGHTFOOT in 4 moves’

         1. BOY GEORGE


         3. _______________________________


one solution:

          BOY GEORGE

          George Herman “Babe” Ruth

          Ruth Gordon


Now can you get from The Lone Ranger to Edgar Allan Poe?


Answer to epitaph question: Mel Blanc (1908-1989). He provided the voice for numerous animated characters, such as Bugs Bunny & Sylvester the Cat.




  After he reads his own humorous poem, the late Victor Buono sits down with Johnny Carson and  reads a poem  I wrote about my grandmother. Victor had played the lead in my play THE LAST OF THE

Attachments area







London Daily News (September 30, 1915) publishes a story about the prosecution of THE RAINBOW by D.H. Lawrence by the Public Morality Commission. See also   The London Times for 15 November 1915 . Headline reads:


For the British, Zola and many French novels must have represented the depths of depravity. In any case, from 1915 until 1926 THE RAINBOW remained out of print.


We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.

                             Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)

Humor –Latin – (h)umovem –flood, moisture. “When Shakespeare used humorous in Romeo and Juliet he meant damp. To speak of a ‘dry humor seems a bit paradoxical.

Margaret S. Ernst. In a Word (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1935)



Typos are enough to disturb any writer, but suppose

a publisher does not even print the author’s name

correctly? Consider the book – A CONCORDANCE OF
WALT WHITMAN’S LEAVES OF GRASS AND SELECTED PROSE WRITERS by Harold Edwin Eby (University of Washington Press, 1949). The book contains this note:

ERRATA: The authors name on the cover & title page should read

                        EDWIN HAROLD EBY


Selections from my collection of epigraphs

All the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That are everywhere. That is what the world is.

Aleksander Hemon . The Lazarus Project.

Epigraph to Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (New York: Random House, 2009)

‘Reptiles are abhorrent because of their cold body, pale color , cartilaginous skeleton, filthy skin, fierce aspect, calculating eye, offensive smell, harsh voice, squalid habitation, and terrible venom, wherefore their Creator

has not exerted his power to make many of them.”

            Linnaeus, 1797

“You cannot recall a new form of life.”

    Erwin Chargaff, 1972

Epigraphs to Jurassic Park  by Michael Chrichton

(Ballantine Books, 1991)

Notes to the above epigraphs:

Linnaeus (1707 – 1778)) was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy”. (Wikipedia) So why the date of

1797? Linnaeus’s son  Carolus Linnaeus theYounger or Carl von Linné was  also a  naturalist, but he died in 1783  ( 1741 – 1783).

Erwin Chargaff (11 August 1905 – 20 June 2002) was an Austro-Hungarian biochemist who immigrated to the United States during the Nazi era and was a professor of biochemistry at Columbia University medical school. Through careful experimentation, Chargaff discovered two rules that helped lead to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  (Wikipedia)

“Jesus calls those who follow him to share his passion.

How can we convince the world by our preaching of the   passion when we shrink from that passion in our own lives?”

            Dietrich Bonhoeffer

One man will leap into the holy fire,

Unfailing in his mission, unafraid.

He travels light, now driven by desire

From sundown into dawn, from pyre to pyre.

              Ion of Chios

Epigraphs to The Damascus Road: a novel of Saint Paul by Jay Parini (New York: Doubleday, 2019)

  Robin Hood is here again; all his merry thieves

Hear a ghostly bugle-note shivering through the leaves…

The dead are coming back again, the years are rolled away

         In Sherwood, in Sherwood, about the break of day.

                                  Alfred Noyes

Epigraph to The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green (New York; Puffin, 2010)

How sad that we have no memories of our mother’s milk or our first sight of the world, through eyes made blurry by the tears we shed for milk…

   Sait Faik Abasiyanik, Milk

Epigraph to Milk by Mark Kurlansky (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018).


For the whole earth is the tomb of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of

Them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.

   Pericles on the Athenian dead

From Thucydides’s  History of the Peloponnesian War

Epigraph to Out of Darkness, Shining Light by

Petina  Gappah (New York: Scribner,2019)



  Holt was once the past tense of hold.

  The person beneath this stone

   Is the past tense of everything.




  Being a series of letters between an aspiring playwright and a dramaturg (or recent college graduate):

 March l9, l987

Dear Mr. Shakespar:

   Thank you for sending us your play –HAMLET, or THE PRINCE OF DENMARK to the Workshop To Death Theater.  I am returning it to you, because, as we have announced repeatedly in the Dramatists Guild Quarterly, our theater no longer accepts unsolicited manuscripts.

  If you wish, however, you may send us a short synopsis of your play, a cast list, scene breakdown, and a page of sample dialogue. We shall then tell you if we wish to read the entire script. We then give a reading of your script to an invited audience and, from there, we begin rewrites.


Belevedere W. (Ph.D.)



June l5 , l988

Dear Mr. Shokespare:

         Thank you for your letter and for sending The Workshop to Death Theater a synopsis and sample dialogue from your full-length play HAMLET or THE PRINCE OF DENMARK. I’m sorry to take so long to get back to you.

    Frankly we think you’ve tried to cram too much into your play and some of the action makes no sense.

  You write, and I quote from your synopsis: ” Two soldiers walking on a tower see a ghost and get frightened.  A young student of philosophy returns home to find that his father has been murdered and that his mother (Gertrude) has married the Prince’s Uncle.  The Prince pretends to go mad and then he kills the Uncle’s advisor, the father of the Prince’s girlfriend Ophelia. Ophelia then goes mad and drowns herself. Then strolling players come to the castle to act out yet another play…”

  I know there is more to your synopsis, but, frankly, that is all we need to know that the play is not for us. Too confusing. Just who are all these people? Where does the ghost come from? Are Hamlet and Ophelia having a relationship or they just sleeping together? Do you know what Hamlet et. al. do when they are not on stage?

Also the page of dialogue you sent us (although it exhibits a certain interest in language) is too too wordy. Cast size too large.

   We, therefore, cannot encourage you to send this script. Do you have something more simple? More conventional? Our audiences are quite traditional.  Try to think of a play whose synopsis gives us a true feeling of what you are about and we’ll be happy to consider it for our impromptu reading program.


Belvedere Whiplash



April,l2 l989

Dear Mr. Shakespeare:

  Thank you for your letter of Dec. l988, and for your synopsis of King Lear.

Unfortunately, The Whiplash Theater, formerly the Workshop to Death Theater, has undergone significant changes, and we now only read half-page synopses submitted through an agent.

    If you do not have an agent, I suggest you consult Literary Marketplace or the annual listings in the Dramatists Guild Quarterly.

  We are particularly interested in one set, small cast comedies, with a runnng time of eight minutes or less. That way we can cram l0 new playwrights into a single program and, thus, improve our chances for funding.


Carl Brandenberg



Feb. 21, l990

Dear Mr. Steelingham:

  Sorry to be so tardy in responding to your submission of a half-page synopsis of A COMEDY OR ERRORS by your client Bill Shakespeare.  The play sounds very clever, although a few of us were confused by just how many sets of identical (or even Siamese) twins are needed to stage the piece.  When your client writes that ” Identical twins are separated at birth in a storm at sea” –he doesn’t make it clear whether or not he wishes that

scene to be staged.  Our resources for staging storm scenes are quite limited. Also, the page of dialogue seems more prosey than other pages I have read from your playwright.

  But even if we could make heads or tails of the synopsis, we still couldn’t ask to see the entire script because our schedule is filled up for the next two years. We are concentrating on small cast musicals and revivals of Broadway hits.


Joan Makepeace

Associate Director, New Play Series


MAy l2, l990

Dear Mr. Shakespeare:

  Thank you for sending the Death to Audiences Theater a  three sentence synopsis of your comedy MEASURE FOR MEASURE. Sounds like it lends itself to a musical. We are interesting in hearing more about it. Could you please

send us every other page of the script.

   We also charge a $l0.00 reading fee. $25.00 if you wish a written critique.

  Sincerely yours,

Meyers Oberhoffer

Husband to the Producer


 At this point there are no more letters in the file. We, alas, regret we have none of the responses from the playwright.


Louis Phillips


The Incredible Shrinking Author

Please keep these words in your sight at all times. If you look away, who knows what might happen?


What do you see in The Marquis de Sade? Beats me!

What’s the difference between 16.5 feet and a former New York Yankee all-star 3rd baseman?


New item on the U.S. Congress Dining Rooms: SQUID PRO QUO, served with side dish of dirt on Biden.



I advanced the theory at the time that immorality on the stage is perfectly acceptable as long as isn’t accompanied by popular music.

Wolcott Gibbs


What we did, where we were,
Who we were then,
I no longer remember,
& every so often names escape me,
But your face remains firm
Where once my heart beat wildly,
Remembering your wide skirt,
Your smile
That made days open & close,
So today I bring  these words
Opening & closing, closing &
Opening. I bring them to you
Because the flower lady
On our corner
Had sold out the irises
Which you love so much.


Had sold out the irisesOn our corner


Comman des Courtland J.W. (Jim) Simpson of the Royal Navy “who visited Greenland with a Danish expedition in 1950, has a hunch that ‘in a thousand years, probably tens of thousand years’ the vanishing ice will raise the world’s sea level by 16 feet,thereby flooding most seaports.

Newsweek July 14, 1952


…when he (WILLIAM HICKEY) does show contempt , it is withering; those Portuguese sailors, for instance, who panic-stricken in a storm at sea, scrambled for a crucifix brandished by a priest, and tore it to pieces, are not called cowards or fools or knaves, but ;’miserable enthusiasts’; while they were trying to save their souls, their more stout-hearted fellows were trying to save the ship.

William Plomer. Electric Delights ( Boston: David R. Godine, 1978)


Beats Me!


“No matter what you do, you can act your heart out, but people will always say, ‘Oh, Julie Adams — “Creature From the Black Lagoon.” ’ ”

Julie Adams

I’m sometimes kind of jealous of my work. It keeps

Getting all the attention and I’m not. After all, I wrote


       John Ashbery

 I’m the foe of moderation, the champion of excess. If I may lift a line from a die-hard whose identity is lost in the shuffle, ‘I’d rather be strongly wrong than weakly right’.

               Tallulah Bankhead

From the experiments I have made, I fear I am a non-conductor of friendship, a not-very-likeable person.

                    Thomas Lovell Beddoes

So I’m ugly. So what? I never saw anyone hit with his face.

               Yogi Berra

  I am as dispassionate as it is possible for a human being to be and not be a machine.

     Richard Burton

  It is certain that I am not a great man, but I have an enthusiastic love of great men,

  And I derive a kind of glory from it.

           James Boswell

On Monday the Post  bought the story for  three thousand and threw in a hymn of praise  from Rust Hills in case I should be feeling lonely and insecure. (WILLIAM)  Maxwell  not only said I was a writing machine; he said that I was his story machine. No diminishment was intended. The original comparison was to a tomato plant.

   John Cheever in a letter to Josephine Herbst in

February  1952 in The Letters of John Cheever,

Edited by Benjamin Cheever (Simon & Schuster, 1988)


   I have no money, no friends, and am hated by millions just because I always tell the truth. What does that tell you about our society? I would definitely suck as a politician.

          Jose Canseco

Sometimes I feel like a has been who never was.

            Sandra Dee


No animals have been harmed
In the making of this couplet.



Some bits & Pieces of A MISPLACED LIFE

Posted bylouisprofphillipsNovember 1, 2019Posted inUncategorizedEditSome bits & Pieces of A MISPLACED LIFE

In NYC, you know you are in a fashionable restaurant if there is mouthwash in the bathroom; I’m used to restaurant bathrooms that post the phone numbers of bail bondsmen.

There is no news like no news.



In order

To prevent

The reader

From getting

Too excited

I have

Saved the

Most electric

Two words

Until now.


“But Jumbo was too big for its cash registers, Though it received superb notices and played to over a million customers, it lost money. A few years ago the Whitneys got some of it back when Metro bought the movie rights. I don’t know when the studio is going to get around to making this picture, but before it does, I would suggest that it send the director to New York and instruct him to stand still some night near the parking space at 43rd Street and Sixth Avenue where the old Hippodrome stood. If he listens closely, he’ll still hear them yocking it up at what drama critics agree was the biggest laugh in the history of show business. It came near the end of the first act when a sheriff caught  Jimmy Durante trying to steal an elephant.

   “Where are ya going with that elephant?” yelled the copper.”

     “What elephant?” asked Jimmy.

BILLY ROSE. Wine, Women and Words/ (Simon & Schuster,1948)


                        RE: CONSIDERATIONS

     quotations, observations, thoughts, quips,

        & philosophical, literary,  historical,

                          & contemporary insights

                       Collected by Louis Phillips


President Bush was against abortion, but for capital punishment.  Spoken  like a true fisherman: Throw them back, kill them when  they’re bigger.

     Elayne Boosler

You accept the death of a six-year old child by aerial bombardment or economic sanctions and defend the life of a six-week old fetus. Think of it as taking the high road in Lilliput,

            Garret Keizer  Harper’s Magazine (February 2005)


   One can make the case that we have lost the capacity for abstract thought. When we read or listen to the radio, the mind forms images in response to the suggestion. the same thing can be said to occur when an illustration provokes the viewer by its symbolic relationship to reality. There are certain tribes in Africa that do not distinguish between their dream life and their daily life. We find ourselves in a similar condition. But on must note that the reality that television has provided us with does not serve our deepest needs.

   Milton Glaser


   In order to attain the impossible one must attempt the absurd.

     Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)


     A character in a novel some years ago described academics as merely  “reviewers delivering their copy a hundred years late.’ This is no longer the case: nowadays they’re jostling the freelancers out of the weekly literary pages.

           Julian Barnes

Introduction to  Reliable Essays: The Best of  Clive James (Picador, 2001)


Who killed James Joyce?

I, said the commentator,

I killed James Joyce

For my graduation.

Patrick Kavanagh, from “Who Killed James Joyce?”

The academic community is composed largely of nitwits. If I may generalize. People who don’t know very much about what matters very much, who view life through literature rather than the other way around…In my fourteen or sixteen years in the profession, I’ve met more people that I did not admire than at any other point in my life. Including two years in the infantry, where I was the only guy who could read.

Robert B. Parker, author of the SPENSER mystery series


  On November 16, 1980, the French philosopher Louis Althussen strangled his wife Helene. In reviewing Althussen’s book –

The Future Lasts Forever — George Steiner

Told his readers that “The doctor came and gave Althussen an injection in Althussen’s study. “Someone (I do not know who) was removing books I had borrowed from the

Ecole Library.” This is a Shakespearean touch

unendurably exact in its intimation of academic personalities. What is mere homicide compared with unreturned library


See The New Yorker (February 21, 1994)

…I have lectured on campuses for a quarter of a century, and it is my impression that after taking a course in The Novel, it is an unusual student who would ever want to read a novel again.

                             Gore Vidal


“I’m so glad you’re not a teacher,” he said. “They never seem real somehow…An accountant’s is a sensible yet glamorous occupation. He made Homer sound like balance sheets and balance sheets like Homer…”

from ROOM AT THE TOP by John Braine


The mortar between the bricks.

Beulah Bondi, describing what character actors are, quoted by Anthony Slide, “The Character Player” in Films in Review (March 1990)

 At the end of the play I had to explain to the audience –as I build the church all in mime – that I’ve been told by God to wheel my mother in a barrow all over England….and I’d been wheeling this fragile old lady all over the stage…until God told me to stop at this mound (on the stage) and build a church. Finally we stop, and I build the church – I and the audience have to imagine it, As I tell the villagers in the play how it happened, I could feel the absolute stillness of the audience. The atavistic hairs on the back of the back of my neck roe and I thought: what an extraordinary feeling, That was the first time I felt a sense of the power of acting, of being the medium through which the emotions of he words could be felt. That’s when I thought I’ll go on with it.

 Richard Burton, on acting in Christopher Fry’s The Lady’s Not For Burning. Quoted by Hollis Alpert in Burton.


I try not to play characters that ever have ever have any self-awareness that their conviction is boneheaded. And I think that can either be funny or dramatic. After all, a character doesn’t know whether they’re in a comedy or a drama.

 Steve Carell, in an interview with Ana Marie Cox  New York Times Magazine (December 6, 2015)

I don’t care if people think I’m an overactor. People who think that would call Van Gogh an overpainter.

Jim Carrey

I remember  during one of the first days of the shooting, as his (RONALD COLMAN’S) portable dressing room was next to mine. I could hear much of what was said in his: the door was open and he was being interviewed

By an earnest and rather awed young lady. She asked him what he thought was the most important thing for an actor to retain, and he said, after only a moment’s pause, “His amateur enthusiasm.”

Celeste Holm, quoted in Ronald Colman: A Very Private Person by Juliet Benita Colman

(William Morrow & Co. l975).

To impersonate a really bad actor takes a really good actor.

   Lloyd Evans

The first day  I rehearsed with him (TYRONE GUTHRIE) he spotted me marking my script and immediately demanded to know what I was doing. “Marking in the move you’ve just given me, Mr. Guthrie.” “Don’t,” he said. “Waste of time. If I’ve given you a good move you’ll remember it; if bad, you’ll forget it and we’ll think up another.”  I have never marked my script since

   Joe Leberman says to the method actors: “When I appeared in the crowd scene in Julius Caesar, I stood downstage right in extreme profile. I cried only with my right eye. No sense wasting tears that the audience couldn’t see.”

            quoted by Judith Malina in her Diaries


Acting is a lot of damned hard work. It’s not just the physical exhaustion, but little things like having to play

a whole scene with your nose itching, or doing a long violent speech when you have indigestion, or wanting to raise your eyes suddenly only to find yourself blinking into a thousand-watt bulb,

     Sir Laurence Olivier

Saturday Review (March 8, 1952)


I took  up acting because it let me burn off energy. Besides, I wanted to beat the 40-hour-a week rap. But, man I didn’t escape. Now I am working 72 hours a week. So there you go.

Steve McQueen in Life (July 12, 1963)

   To me, there’s something that happens in  your head early in the day when you know that, later that night, you’ve got to perform the role, the whole role. You’re not  doing a minute of it or three minutes, like you do in a movie. You taxi to the end of the runway and you take off, you know what I mean? There’s no returning. You’re on. It does something to your adrenaline. It changes your chemistry.

   Al Pacino

Interviewed by Rick Lyman, NY Times (April 20,2003)


You can’t play psychiatric conditions and any actor knows that when a director says “Be more angry,’ you think that’s meaningless.

But to play a scene as if the character has some kind of mental fog that has descended and clouded his thinking, that gives you a range of things to work with. So you haven’t got to actually explore the psychiatry of the character to reveal it.

Geoffrey Rush, discussing playing David Heliflott in Shine

Paul (Newman) slaves at acting. He studies scripts for hours and doodles all over them. I like doing things subconsciously and bring them forth full-bloom. If I did as much thinking about a part as Paul does, I’d go raving mad.

  Joanne Woodward in Life (July 5, 1963)





Fodor Dostoevsky

Did not advertise Have Skis

Will Travel

It was just something I read in a novel.



Eric Blair,

As you may be well aware,

Was the birthname of George Orwell.

I just give the facts. Farewell!



Ezra Pound

On his keyboard found

The symbol #

& when he learned what it meant, he cursed %^&&#.

**Posted bylouisprofphillipsNovember 1, 2019Posted inUncategorizedEditSome bits & Pieces of A MISPLACED LIFE

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