Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ava on Clark

In today's Times book review, Ava Gardner on Clark Gable, whom she acted with in the film "Mogambo":

He didn't know what to say after I said, "Hi ya, Clark, how are you?"

Gee, I would have been tongue-tied, too, talking to Ava!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Great Quote

"The stockbroker services his clients the way Bonnie aand Clyde serviced banks."

A quote from Bill Bernstein, a neurologist in Oregon who has written two books advocating the purchase of index funds.

I gave a talk to high-school students recently, and -- before invoking that quote -- had to ask: Has anyone heard of Bonnie and Clyde? Only two kids raised their hands.

I interviewed Bernstein the other day -- warm, friendly, smart, flexible. How come value stocks have done better than growth stocks? He thinks that they're a free lunch. And Mr. Buffett is one in a million.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I received more e-mails about a nasty article I recently wrote about Wikipedia than about any other article I've written in recent years. Maybe I'll print them all. What a variety of opinions!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The 50 Worst Films of All Time

By Harry Medved with Randy Dreyfuss. I bought it for $5.25 in a used-book store today, and it gave me 2 hours of fun reading. Intelligent book with sometimes surprising choices.

Would you believe...

Last Year at Marienbad? (When it came out, I thought I was alone in hating the movie)

Abraham Lincoln (1930), directed by Griffith

The Goldwyn Follies (1938)

Ivan the Terrible, ! and 2

Jamaica Inn (directed by Hitchcock)

New Moon (1940)

Parnell (with Gable)

The film whose inclusion I disagree with: New Moon. But then, I love Nelson and Jeanette--and Lover Come Back to Me.

Some of the movies on the list belong more properly, I think, on a list of MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIES.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Surprising Story

A man named Bart Sibrel claimed that the Apollo XI astronauts had never left earth and the whole thing was a fraud.

In the new book "Astronomical Enigmas," Mark Kidger writes:

"In September 2002, Sibrel confronted a 72-year-old Buzz Aldrin in a Beverly Hills hotel, demanding that Aldrin take an oath on the Bible to the effect that he had truly walked on the moon, a demand that Aldrin answered by punching Sibrel in the nose."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

George Romney

Phone call from a Boston Globe columnist--someone had shown him an article I had written back in the 1960s, for Fact magazine, about George Romney, then a Presidential candidate--a satirical article about his Mormonism--because Romney's son is Governor of Massachusetts, the columnist was interested in my old article--

I told him that most politicians probably compartmentalize their religious beliefs, a la JFK--and Mit Romney's religious beliefs can probably be safely ignored--in any case, I am thrilled that Mass has become the first state to provide health insurance for all its citizens--I may move there!--and if I were a voter in Mass, I would certainly vote for...a Kennedy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Book proposal

Juicy Gossip: Shocking & Scandalous Stories About Famous People

By Warren Boroson

This book is meant to entertain -- with startling anecdotes and surprising information about famous people. Biographies these days are much more revealing than they once were, so plenty of material is available.

Besides, it can be enlightening (and reassuring) to be reminded that famous people could be human all too human.

Most of the people written about would be historical.

Sources would be provided for all statements.

The anecdotes/information would vary in length - some a few sentences long, some a page or more. Well-known stories - Ben Franklin's estrangement from his son, and from his wife, would be skipped; sexual scandals, being plentiful, would be limited.

The material would vary, too. Some of it would be serious, but some would be just innocently amusing.

The key questions are: Is this amusing? Surprising? Little-known?

To my mind, perfect candidates for the book are:

1. Jerome Kern (composer of “Showboat”) was successfully sued for plagiarism by Giacomo Puccini (“I Left My Love in Avalon” is akin to an aria in “Tosca”);

2. Florence Nightingale did not believe in the germ theory of disease; she was also dubious that women might become doctors;

3. Robert Browning didn't recognize a term he encountered in a medieval poem, and thought it referred to an article of clothing. So, in a famous poem of his own, he referred to old nuns' twats.

Perhaps the book would be arranged alphabetically.

More examples, all of which would be fleshed out:


Albert Einstein had an illegitimate daughter (with his first wife, before he married her). She is lost to history, perhaps because she did not survive long.

One signer of the Declaration of Independence later, under intense pressure, swore loyalty to the British.

Walt Whitman, while a teacher on Long Island, was denounced by a clergyman for having affairs with some of his male students, and allegedly was tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. (A recent biographer gives some credence to this story.)

President Woodrow Wilson supported segregation.


Apple co-founder Steve Jobs is adopted. (His father of Arabic ancestry.) He discovered that his birth sister is the successful novelist Mona Simpson, who later based a character on him.

Carl Sagan, the astronomer, was a regular user of marijuana and appeared in print as an anonymous advocate of its use.

Abraham Lincoln, according to his law partner William Herndon, told off-color stories. (Examples.)

George Washington's first offer of marriage was rejected.

Ludwig van Beethoven apparently was anti-Semitic.

For good reason, Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) did not believe that she spread the disease. In fact, she once had herself checked out by a chemist. He reported that she did not have typhoid. (Today scientists believe that she was in temporary remission.)

Friday, April 07, 2006


I need surprising, entertaining facts/anecdotes about famous people. EG,

Florence Nightingale didn't believe in the germ theory of disease.
Sid Caesar studied the saxophone at Juilliard.
Amelia Earhart had a love affair with the father of Gore Vidal.

Many more to come.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Fate of Moby Dick

I missed a lecture on Melville the other day, but I was reminded that, a few years back, I happened to read a children's version of Moby Dick -- God knows why.

And I was shocked.

The book declared that Moby Dick had been killed in the encounter with the Pequod. A glaring, unpardonable mistake, I thought.

I went back to the original.

The whale was... "stricken."

Apparently the children's book was not totally misguided.


At 530 this morning, I sent Lenore a msg--


She wrote back,