davidbrucehaiku: loneliness and alcohol






Loneliness and alcohol

They’re not just for retirement



Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks(pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)


davidbrucehaiku: better than Pokemon






Look! I see beauty!

I can capture it with this

And keep it always


Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks(pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)



davidbrucehaiku: problem-solving?






I don’t look so good

Maybe if I paint my eye

Orange I will look good


Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks(pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)



David Bruce: Movies Anecdotes


Darryl F. Zanuck accepting the Academy Award for Best Picture for Gentleman’s Agreement (1947).

When move producer Darryl F. Zanuck purchased the film rights of John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, some people felt that he was buying the rights to prevent a movie ever being made of the book, which criticized banks and big farm interests. However, Mr. Zanuck did make a movie based on the book — the movie, starring Henry Fonda, is a classic. Because so many powerful people opposed the making of a movie based on The Grapes of Wrath, the making of the movie was kept secret. Whenever anyone asked which movie they were filming, they gave the title of another movie. In addition, Mr. Zanuck hired extra stagehands — that is, bodyguards — for the making of this particular film.

Making Jungle Fever, about the romance between a black man and an Italian-American woman, was difficult. Filmmaker Spike Lee directed some scenes of the movie in the largely Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn. The inspiration for the movie was the murder of Yusef Hawkins by a white mob in Bensonhurst in 1989. While making the movie, Mr. Lee received three bomb threats, and he, actor Wesley Snipes, and his cameraman had rocks thrown at them. One of the rocks actually hit the cameraman, Ernest Dickerson. For a while, the people making the movie had to be guarded by police officers.

Sometimes life is like a cartoon. When he was a youngster, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz stood in line at a movie theater which had advertised that the first 500 children buying a ticket would get a free Butterfingers candy bar. When he arrived at the ticket booth, he was informed that the theater had run out of candy bars. Mr. Schultz figures that he must have been the 501st child in line.

French comic filmmaker Jacques Tati carefully observed people and things, as they gave him ideas with which to work. Before creating his movie Traffic, he went to a highway and observed. One of the things he noticed was that many people driving away on holiday do not look happy. He also noticed a car that contained a dog that stared at a field that the dog could have played in. (I highly recommend his M. Hulot’s Holiday, which doesn’t need dialogue.)

Whoopi Goldberg’s first movie appearance was in The Color Purple, directed by Stephen Spielberg. Ms. Goldberg wanted to play the part of Sofia, but Mr. Spielberg offered her the bigger part of Celie. At first, Ms. Goldberg hesitated to accept the part, then she remembered that this was the great director Stephen Spielberg offering her an important part, and she told herself, “Wake up, stupid. Say yes.”

Because of her job, Beth Joiner, a children’s dance teacher in Georgia, is very aware of the romantic lives of her young pupils. For example, whenever there is a movie Friday afternoon at school, her students tell her with whom they will be going. Once, a long succession of students told her about the boys they were going with, and the last student said, “I’m going with Edwin. I don’t really like him, but he’s the only one left.”

Before becoming famous as the host of Late Night on NBC and the Late Show on CBS, David Letterman appeared on television in his native Indiana. Among other duties, Mr. Letterman hosted late-night movies in a program he named Freeze-Dried Movies. During what was really his second week of hosting the show, Mr. Letterman celebrated what he called his “tenth anniversary” as host.

During World War II, British soldiers watched bad movies when that was the best entertainment available and often the only entertainment featuring female flesh. During one movie, the bad guy shot the good guy in the arm, and the well-endowed heroine tore off a strip of cloth from her blouse to use as a bandage. One British soldier yelled at the movie’s bad guy, “Go on, shoot ’im in the other arm!”

Charles Chaplin and Edna Purviance made many silent films together, but after he directed her in the 1923 drama A Woman of Paris, she stopped starring in his films. Nevertheless, although she seldom appeared in his films, he kept her under contract as a way to help her financially. She did appear in small roles in his movies Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Limelight (1952).

Hollywood cameraman James Wong Howe had the greatest amount of fun in his career during the days of silent movies. He remembers driving around with a crew looking for a house to shoot in front of. If no one was home, they began to shoot the film. If the home owner returned before they had finished, everyone would hop over the fence and take off running.

Movie crews sometimes have interesting assignments. When Fred Astaire’s Top Hat was ready to film, Benito Mussolini controlled Italy, and the movie’s producers knew that they could not get permission to film in Venice; therefore, they ordered the movie crew, “Build us Venice.” They got what they wanted.

When Carol Burnett was growing up, she worked part-time at a movie theater that broadcast the sound of the movie into the area she staffed. She never saw the movie Ivanhoe, but she did hear it more than a hundred times. Decades afterward, she could still repeat verbatim long passages from the movie.

“You see those charts that say if you put away $500 a year starting at age 20, by the time you’re 50 you’d have a gazillion dollars. It just makes you ill that you didn’t do it. You almost want to grab young people and shake ’em and say, ‘Please don’t make the same mistake I did. Please.’” — James Carville.

For much of his career, Steven Spielberg was known as a director of action movies for children, not as a director of serious movies. When he applied for permission to film part of Schindler’s List at Auschwitz, he was denied permission to do so.

Actor Walter Slezak learned from Hollywood director Leo McCarey just how quickly bad works of art are forgotten. Mr. McCarey once told him, “Nobody points at John Ford and says, ‘He made a picture, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.’”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Blaise Pascal (1623-1662): Belief Without Proofs


Blaise Pascal was a Frenchman who lived from 1623-1662. As a fifteen-year-old, he published monographs on conic sections. According to the Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Pascal also “founded the modern theory of probability, discovered the properties of the cycloid, and contributed to the advance of differential calculus.” After having a mystical experience on November 23, 1654, he began collecting notes for a book in which he would attempt to convince non-believers to believe in God. He died before his book was completed; however, his notes were published under the title of Pensées(Thoughts) in 1670. This essay is based on some of Pascal’s notes.

To begin, Pascal divided men into three groups: “There are but three classes of persons: those who have found God and serve Him; those who have not found God but do diligently seek Him; and those who have not found God, and live without seeking Him. The first are happy and wise. The second are unhappy, but wise. The third are unhappy and fools.”

For Pascal, only the believers are happy; everyone else is unhappy. Of the three groups, Pascal had respect for those who are searching for God; however, he had no respect for those who have not found God and are not searching for God.

Indeed, Pascal makes fun of those who say they have searched for God but have not found him. He says that these people spend a few hours reading Scripture and ask a few questions of an ecclesiastic, then they boast that they “in vain consulted books and men.”

According to Pascal, “It is a sorry evil to be in doubt. It is an indispensable duty to seek when we are in doubt. Therefore he who doubts and neglects to seek to dispel these doubts, is at once in a sorry plight and guilty of great perversity. If he is calm and contented in his doubt, if he frankly avows it, if he boasts of it, if he makes it the subject of vanity and delight, I can find no terms with which to describe him.”

In attempting to move people from the third group (unhappy and fools) to the second (unhappy, but wise because they are seeking God), Pascal first admits that arguments based on natural theology will not be convincing to these groups. After one has found God, then one will find proof of God’s existence in everything that exists; unfortunately, if one has not yet found God, one will find that evidence inconclusive.

Pascal places Man in perspective: Man is in between the infinitely large and the infinitely small. Compared to an atom, Man is very large; compared to the universe, Man is very small. Yet there is something special about Man, for he has intelligence. In a famous passage, Pascal writes:

Man is but a reed, weakest in nature, but a reed which thinks. A thinking reed. It needs not that the whole universe should arm to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But were the universe to kill him, man would still be more noble than that which has slain him, because he knows that he dies, and that the universe has the better of him. The universe knows nothing of this.

Pascal states that all men desire happiness. In this, he is in agreement with Aristotle. But whereas Aristotle believed that a man could become happy by fulfilling his potential, Pascal believes that men find happiness only in God.

Now that he has set the scene, Pascal is ready to make his famous wager, in which he proposes to move people from group three to group two. He asks the unbeliever to consider the stakes of believing in God versus not believing in God. If one believes in God and God exists, then one wins eternal happiness; if one believes in God and God does not exist, then one loses a finite amount of time — time spent searching for God. On the other hand, if one does not believe in God and God does exist, then one loses infinite happiness; if one does not believe in God and God does not exist, then one wins only a finite amount of time.

To put this wager in perspective, imagine that someone offers to make a wager with you. You will bet on the flip of a coin — if you win, you will win a million dollars, and if you lose, you will lose only a dollar. Who would not make this wager?

Of course, this wager seems crudely materialistic, based as it is on what you will win or lose. However, remember that Pascal directs this wager to the third group: the unhappy fools. Pascal feels certain that if he can move these people into the second group, he can then help them move into the first group of the happy wise who have found God and are presumably interested in more than they can win by finding God.

How does Pascal propose to move people in the second group into the first group? Here his advice appears to me sound. You will find faith by imitating those who already have faith in God. (Here again we see the influence of Aristotle, who says that one can acquire moral virtue by imitating those who already have moral virtue.)

Pascal writes,

Now what will happen to you if you take this side in the religious wager? You will be trustworthy, honorable, humble, grateful, generous, friendly, sincere, and true. You will no longer have those poisoned pleasures, glory and luxury; but you will have other pleasures. I tell you that you will gain this life; at each step you will see so much certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you stake, that you will know at last you have wagered on a certainty, an infinity, for which you have risked nothing.

This is sound advice. If you want to be a certain kind of person, act as if you are already that kind of person. If you want to be courageous, act as if you are already courageous, and eventually you will become courageous. If you want to be a certain weight, act as if you are already that weight; for example, if you want to lose weight, act the way a slim person acts — don’t overeat, and do exercise. Eventually, you will achieve your desired weight.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis briefly tells a story about a person who had to wear a mask that made him look much nicer than he really was. When he finally took the mask off, he discovered that his face had grown to fit the mask, and so he really had become nice-looking.

Note: The material this essay is based on comes from An Introduction to Modern Philosophy, by Alburey Castell, Donald Borchert and Arthur Zucker. Their material came from Pascal’s Thoughts, but the selection of thoughts and the order in which they are discussed involves interpretation by Castell, Borchert, and Zucker.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Free eBooks, Including Philosophy eBooks,by David Bruce (pdfs)


Lao-Tzu #8: The supreme good is like water, which benefits all of creation without trying to compete with it.



The supreme good is like water,

which benefits all of creation

without trying to compete with it.

It gathers in unpopular places.

Thus it is like the Tao.


The location makes the dwelling good.

Depth of understanding makes the mind good.

A kind heart makes the giving good.

Integrity makes the government good.

Accomplishment makes your labors good.

Proper timing makes a decision good.


Only when there is no competition

will we all live in peace.




Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996



Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks(pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)


Thomas Hardy: The Pity of It

April 1915
I walked in loamy Wessex lanes, afar
From rail-track and from highway, and I heard
In field and farmstead many an ancient word
Of local lineage like ‘Thu bist,’ ‘Er war,’ 
‘Ich woll’, ‘Er sholl’, and by-talk similar,
Nigh as they speak who in this month’s moon gird
At England’s very loins, thereunto spurred
By gangs whose glory threats and slaughters are.
Then seemed a Heart crying: ‘Whosoever they be
At root and bottom of this, who flung this flame
Between kin folk kin tongued even as are we,
‘Sinister, ugly, lurid, be their fame;
May their familiars grow to shun their name,
And their brood perish everlastingly.’

Saxons Fighting Saxons

The War threw up as many questions about national identies as it (originally) attempted to answer. On the Western Front, for example, Saxon Regiments of the German army faced men from the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (Essex, Sussex, and Wessex). This confusion was highlighted by Thomas Hardy, the quintessential Englishman in his poem ‘The Pity Of It’ published in April, 1915 …



Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks(pdfs)

Aesop: The Ass and the Lapdog

A Farmer one day came to the stables to see to his beasts of burden: among them was his favourite Ass, that was always well fed and often carried his master. With the Farmer came his Lapdog, who danced about and licked his hand and frisked about as happy as could be. The Farmer felt in his pocket, gave the Lapdog some dainty food, and sat down while he gave his orders to his servants. Thee Lapdog jumped into his master’s lap, and lay there blinking while the Farmer stroked his ears. RThe Ass, seeing this, broke loose from his halter and commenced prancing about in imitation of the Lapdog. The Farmer could not hold his sides with laugh- ter, so the Ass went up to him, and putting his feet upon the Farmer’s shoulder attempted to climb into his lap. The Farmer’s servants rushed up with sticks and pitchforks and soon taught the Ass that clumsy jesting is no joke.