Monday, July 31, 2006

Godzilla in Woodstock

Driving on route 28 east, past store after store, we see...good God, a bear has crossed the road! A big bear!

Astonishment. Like something out of the 18th century. Like an alien creature. And a little fear. Super-natural.

The bear eats something green near the sidewalk, then walks into the yard of someone's house.

I see a bicylist nearby, and signal to him--he nods his head that he knows.
Two cars in front of me pull to the side, as do I, to watch the bear--until the bear disappears.

I hope the bear isn't hurt--by someone with a rifle--but I should have phoned the police--

Wow, on a highway, in a commercial area, to see a big black bear!

A Classmate

> Geraldine Naldi died a few months ago--a high school classmate. A big woman, talkative, smart, always optimistic.
> We read an O'Neill play in high school. Why would he write something so sad? she asked the teacher, puzzled.
> I was struck by her question. Was her own life so happy?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Where Are They Now?

My childhood was rendered especially unhappy thanks to an arrogant, sadistic bully named Earle. A mean kid. He really picked on me. Handsome, charming smile. Outstanding athlete. And he made my life hell.

I was surprised one day to hear other Big Kids saying among themselves that they didn’t like him, either.

I just looked up Earle on Google.

He became a distinguished Jesuit.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Liar, Liar

Ben Stein gave a talk on the radio last year claiming that Dr. Spock's son committed suicide, the implication being that Spock didn't know how to raise children properly. Not true. His grandson committed suicide, not his own sons. And Dr. Spock changed the way Americans raise their children -- from cold and uncaring to warm and caring. Anything you do for your child out of love, Spock said, is okay.

For shame, Ben Stein.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Disappointing Book

A book on personal finance that I'm reading gives mostly good general advice, but is light on specifics. The authors don't want readers to do everything themselves: They want readers to hire THEM. They don't recommend no-load funds over load funds; term over whole life insurance; or even mention Morningstar fund ratings. And the mistakes are occasionally egregious. They say that balanced funds are the same as equity-income funds! I may review the book in my Friday column--or reminisce about working for Ralph Ginzburg at Moneysworth, a short-lived newsletter. For Sunday, part 2 of an article on growth vs value investing.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Beethoven Story

Beethoven's younger brother sent him a letter, and because he was proud of having just purchased some property, he signed hnis name: Beethoven, land owner.

Beethoven wrote back, signing his name: Beethoven, brain-owner.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

letter the times didn't publish

Ralph Ginzburg, the publisher who died recently, did more than just help inaugurate the sexual revolution in this country with his visually splendid Eros magazine. Another of his magazines, Fact, where I worked for a while, was vigorously opposed to the Vietnam war, running articles by (among others) Arnold Toynbee and Benjamin Spock on the subject. In the 1960s, the magazine also called for the extension of Medicare, in an article written by a diabetic, Robert Reisner, who died soon after; and called for the legalization of abortion, in an article written by an anonymous middle-class New York housewife who had undergone one. Another notable article featured letters from famous people about slanted and negative articles about them that had appeared in Time magazine -- including Bertrand Russell, P.G. Wodehouse, Rockwell Kent, Igor Stravinsky, and Mary McCarthy, with an introduction by a former Time publisher, Ralph Ingersoll. Fact was also among the first magazines to publish an article about the revival of the Ku Klux Klan – back in the 1960s. Ginzburg’s powerful, passionate journalism has long been missed.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Scary Movies

I love scary movies. Like Alien. Or the mummy movies I saw as a kid, or the House of Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman movies.

Why? I'm told that timid people in particular like such movies. It's true in my case.

But I think there are two basic reasons:

1. It's pleasant to be scared when you know you're safe. (The pleasure of reading murder mysteries, I'm told, comes from knowing that someone has committed a dastardly crime--and knowing that it wasn't you.)

2. It's somewhat pleasant to express almost ANY emotion. Some people like to express anger. (A woman who was mad at me for months later confessed how much pleasure it gave her.) Or to feign sorrow. (I saw a child do this.) Or gladness. The pleasure of skiing or hang-gliding or similar sports comes from, I suspect, the pleasure of experiencing a little bit of fear.

Ralph Ginzburg

Ralph Ginzburg died--a very colorful, talented, over-the-top person--I worked for him for years--quitting occasionally in a rage--maybe a letter to the Times about what great articles he published in Fact and other magazines of his--

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Confessions (1 and 2)

Rarely do I reveal anything embarrassing about myself on this blog. What if my enemies saw it? But today will be an exception.

I was watching a tennis match on TV yesterday—-Kim, blonde, white, somewhat pretty—against Li, brunette, Asian, not so pretty. With some surprise, I found myself immediately rooting for Kim. And I consider myself enlightened! So…I’m prejudiced. But I don't know if I favor good-looking people--blondes--or whites.

Another confession. I went to open an account with Chas Schwab and I was given an appointment with Mr..... A very ethnic name. I skipped the appointment. Not just because of the ethnicity of the name, but because...I don’t associate that particular name with someone smart and conscientious.

I told someone whom I admire a lot about this lapse on my part. She said she would have done the same thing!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Keen Memory

I was a kid--maybe 7 or 8.

Daytime, rain threatening.

A woman--middle-aged--stopped me at the corner of Fillmore Place and 60th St. Would I go to a shop and fetch her her umbrella, which she had left there? She told me where it was.

I fetched it for her. Pleased that I had found it.

She thought and then said, I don't have any money on me now, but if you come here at 6 c'clock tomorrow, I'll give you a reward.

At 6pm the next day--I was pretty sure she would not come--but I didn't want to insult her by not coming--and so I went there. I waited and waited. And then left. A very keen memory. Some memories vanished, some return again and again.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

More Nice Quotes

A matter of faith

No, I don't understand my husband's theory of relativity, but I know my husband, and I know he can be trusted.--Elsa Einstein

Who said it?

I'd have given 10 conversations with Einstein for a first meeting with a pretty chorus girl. -- Albert Camus

On the other hand...

The fact that a woman has rregular features does not improve her conversation.--Henry David Thoreau

On Brad Pitt

Nothing is more telling of one's age than who they think is glamorous. So, to me, Cary Grant looks like a movie star, Paul Newman looks like a movie star, Warren Beatty looks like a movie star. But Brad Pitt, to be perfectly honest, looks like a trick.--Fran Leibowitz

There will always be an England...

Of course they have, or I wouldn't be sitting here talking to someone like you.--Barbara Cartland, an English lady, replying to an reporter who asked her whether class barriers in England had broken down

Nice Quotes

On Acting

Always remember before going on stage, wipe your nose and check your fly. -- Alec Guinness.

On American Dining Habits

Americans can eat garbage, provided you sprinkle it liberally with ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or any other condiment which destroys the original flavor of the fish. -- Henry Miller

On the Quality of TV Newspeople

Who is the loneliest monk? -- MTV news reporter Tabith Soren after interviewing Bill Clinton, who had said that his dream was to play the sax with Thelonious Monk.

The Open Mind

It does me no injury for my neighor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It nerither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg. -- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Stand-Up Comic

A local social group has announced a comedy night. Anyone, even someone without experience, can volunteer to perform. So I have. I like to tell jokes.

"You can't just tell jokes," someone warns me.

But I'll have things to say between jokes. I'll talk about humor. And about the jokes themselves.

Which jokes?

I have six really good ones.

God tells woman she'll live to 100.

Priest catches big fish.

Man who wants to scuba-dive.

Competition to convert a bear.

Man who finds a magical lamp.

Jew from Minsk.

I'll tell one after another...and stop if I think interest is flagging.

No, this won't be the beginning of a new career for me. I'll quickly run out of good jokes!