davidbrucehaiku: OUR FUN SHOULD BE FUN






Let’s try dressing down

And not try hard to be hip

Our fun should be fun


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David Bruce: Authors Anecdotes


All beginning authors have to deal with rejection slips. Young people’s author Bruce Coville calls them “ugly baby letters.” He says, “It’s like getting a letter that says, ‘Dear Mr. Coville, We have carefully examined photographs of your child, and boy, do you have an ugly baby!” Mr. Coville also says that beginning authors have to keep on writing and sending out manuscripts—if they don’t, they will never be published.

Good satire often appears where you don’t expect it, and why not—satirists are highly intelligent people who sense opportunities that ordinary people don’t recognize. For example, many odd items appear for sale at <amazon.com>, including skinned rabbit carcasses. Immediately, satirists started writing customer comments: “Nothing says ‘EAT ME’ like a picture of a skinned rabbit carcass!” and “I bought this thinking it would make a wonderful gift for my neighbor’s young son. Ordering was simple, and delivery was flawless. So you can imagine the shock and awe not only on my face, but also my neighbor’s three-year-old son, when he opened the package to find a DEAD rabbit.” The <amazon.com> page selling uranium ore provoked this comment: “My wife and I purchased this product for the express purpose of breeding an atomic superman. After a daily regimen of ingesting a tablespoon of this powder mixed with green tea along with her prenatal vitamins, my wife developed serious morning sickness and perished during childbirth.”

While author Robert Parsons was on holiday in St. Lucia, he and his family ate dinner at a buffet restaurant. Unfortunately, three English teenagers were seated nearby, and they were using the f-word. Because Mr. Parsons’ daughter was young enough to be reading books such as My Little Pony, he went over to the teenagers and told them to stop using foul language. They stopped. Unfortunately, Mr. Parsons’ wife told him later that the teenagers’ language had been foul, but his language when telling them to shut up had been fouler. Of course, telling three teenagers who could easily beat him up to shut up may be dangerous, but Mr. Parsons says that he has done something even more dangerous: taking drugs with the Clash and the Sex Pistols. By the way, Mr. Parsons is learning Japanese, a language that his wife and his daughter know well. As of early 2008, he had learned enough Japanese that his young daughter no longer laughed at him, and he says that he is able to read Tokyo street signs—“as long as they say ‘sushi.’”

David Grazian wrote a book about Philadelphia’s nightlife titled On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife, partly because as a sociologist, he knew that the cities that have been most studied—New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas—are not like other American cities. Mr. Grazian was able to do research by interviewing people partly because he looks like an everyman and not competition or a wolf. He asks, “Can you think up a worse pickup line than ‘Hey, I’m a sociologist … mind if I study you?’” Mr. Grazian says that only one woman ever fell for that line “and I married her.” One thing that Mr. Grazian discovered in his research was that nightlife provokes anxiety: “Shrinking violets and 40-year-old virgins, sure, they were scared. But also the popular kids and the beautiful people—especially the popular kids and the beautiful people. I sometimes think we’d all just be better off dressing down, and stop trying so hard to be hip. Having fun should be way more fun than this.”

At age 13, Mikita Brittman, author of The Solitary Vice: Against Reading, took part in a school debate in which students portrayed famous people trapped in a hot-air balloon from which gas was leaking. One of the passengers had to be overthrown overboard in order to save the other passengers, and each of the passengers had to make the case that he or she was so important that someone else should be thrown overboard. Mikita, of course, being good with words, was able to convince the other children that her character—Bela Lugosi, star of Dracula—was so important that one of the other characters ought to be thrown overboard instead of Mr. Lugosi. Those other characters included Winston Churchill, King Henry VIII, and Margaret Thatcher.

The Australian novelist Shirley Hazzard is highly rated by critics, yet little known by readers. In addition to writing novels, she also has memorized much, much poetry. In fact, her knowledge of poetry led to her and her husband, Flaubert scholar Francis Steegmuller, meeting the novelist Graham Greene. In a restaurant at Capri, they overheard him trying to remember a line of poetry. Ms. Hazzard knew the line and recited it, and the three became friends. Critics do appreciate her. At the end of an interview with Ms. Hazzard, journalist Bryan Appleyard told her, “Thank you. You have written some beautiful novels.” She replied, “Pardon, what did you say?” Mr. Appleyard repeated his statement, and she admitted, “I heard you. I just wanted to hear you say it again.”

Scott Adams, cartoonist and writer of Dilbert, does fewer continuing stories than other comics creators. He feels that all too often the end of the story isn’t funny and therefore is just a wasted day. In fact, he once created a continuing story in which Dogbert created giant menacing cucumbers while doing genetic research. However, he says, “I realized halfway through the series that there was no way this could end well, so I just did an editor’s note saying I realized it wasn’t funny and so I thought I’d just stop there.” His readers agreed that the giant menacing cucumber story was “going nowhere” and that Mr. Adams was right to end the story.

When young people’s author Beverly Cleary was a child, she entered a contest in which the best essay about an animal would win $2. She won the $2, and she found out that she had been the only person to write and send in an essay. Ms. Cleary says, “This incident was one of the most valuable lessons in writing I ever learned. Try! Others will talk about writing but may never get around to trying.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Cast of Characters, and Act 1, Scene 1


Male Characters

Cymbeline, King of Britain.

Cloten, son to the Queen by a former husband. The name “Cloten” rhymes with the word “rotten.”

Posthumus Leonatus, a gentleman, husband to Imogen.

Belarius, a banished Lord, disguised under the name of Morgan.

Guiderius and Arviragus, sons to Cymbeline, supposed sons to Morgan; their names as Morgan’s sons are Polydore and Cadwal. Guiderius (Polydore) is the older of the two. Guiderius and Arviragus are Welsh names.

Philario, friend to Posthumus.

Iachimo, friend to Philario.

A French Gentleman, friend to Philario.

Caius Lucius, general of the Roman forces, and an ambassador representing Caesar Augustus.

A Roman Captain.

Two British Captains.

Pisanio, servant to Posthumus, and to Imogen.

Cornelius, a physician.

Two Lords of Cymbeline’s Court.

Two Gentlemen of the same.

Two Jailers.

Female Characters

Queen, wife to Cymbeline.

Imogen, daughter to Cymbeline by a former Queen.

Helen, a Lady attending on Imogen.

Miscellaneous Characters

Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunes, a Dutch Gentleman, a Spanish Gentleman, a Soothsayer, Musicians, Officers, Captains, Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants, and Apparitions.

Scene: Sometimes in Britain, sometimes in Rome.


— 1.1 —

Two gentlemen were speaking together in the garden of Cymbeline, King of Britain.

The first gentlemen said, “Every man you meet frowns. Just as the astrological planetsinfluence our emotions, so the face of King Cymbeline influences the faces of our courtiers.”

The second gentleman asked, “But what’s the matter?”

“King Cymbeline’s daughter, who is the heir of his Kingdom, and whom he intended to marry his wife’s sole son — his wife is a widow whom he married — has given herselfto a poor but worthy gentleman. She married him. Now her husband has been banished from the Kingdom, and she is imprisoned. Everyone has put on an appearance of outward sorrow, although I think the Kingis truly wounded to the center of his heart.”

“None but the King has been wounded?”

“The man who has lost her is wounded, too; so is the Queen,who greatly desired the match. But none of the courtiers,although their faces bear the same grief-stricken look as the King’s face bears, has a heart that is notglad at the thing they scowl at.”

“Why is that?”

“The man who has lost the Princess is a thingtoo bad for a bad report, and he who has won her —I mean, the good man who has married her and has therefore been banished — is a creature suchas, if you were to seek through the regions of the earthfor another man who is his equal, there would be something lacking in whatever man you found and compared him to. I do not think that any other man has as fair an outward appearance and such a good character within as he does.”

“You speak very highly of him.”

“He is better than I have said he is. I am understating his good points and not fully revealing them.”

“What’s his name and family?”

The first gentleman said, “I cannot trace his family back very far. His fatherwas named Sicilius; he foughtwith King Cassibelan against the Romans but he received his titles from King Tenantius, whomhe served with glory and remarkable success and so gained the additional name Leonatus, which in Latin means “born from a lion.” King Cassibelan was the great-uncle, and King Tenantius was the father, of King Cymbeline.

“Sicilius had, in addition to this gentleman who has married King Cymbeline’s daughter,two other sons, who in the wars of the timedied with their swords in hand. Because of this, Sicilius, their father,then old and fond of children, grieved so much that he died, and his gentle wife, who was then pregnant with this gentleman who has married King Cymbeline’s daughter, died when he was born.

“King Cymbeline took the babe under his protection and named him Posthumus Leonatus. In our society, Posthumus is a common name for a baby born after the death of the father. King Cymbeline raised him and made him a member of his inner circle, and he made available to him all the education that was suitable for a person of his age. Posthumus received that education as we do air — as fast as it was ministered, and in his spring he became a harvest. He lived at court much praised and very loved — which is rare to do. He was an example to the youngest; to the more mature he was a mirror that served as a model of behavior to them; and to the older and graver he was a child who guided dotards. As for his wife, for marrying whom he is now banished, her own price proclaims how she esteemed him and his virtue — she was willing to marry him although it meant that she is now imprisoned. We can truly know what kind of man Posthumus is by knowing that such a worthy woman as Princess Imogen chose to marry him.”

The second gentleman said, “I honor and admire Posthumus because of what you have told me about him. But please tell me, is Princess Imogen the sole child to King Cymbeline?”

“She is his only remaining child. He had two sons. If this is worth your hearing, take note of it. When the eldest of the two sons was three years old and the younger son was still in swaddling clothes, they were stolen from their nursery, and to this hour in all the fields of knowledge there is no credible guess which way they went.”

“How long ago did this happen?”

“Some twenty years.”

“It is difficult to believe that a King’s children should be so slackly guarded, so kidnapped, and the search for them so slow and unable to trace them!”

“Although it is strange, and although the negligence involved may well be laughed at, yet it is true, sir.”

“I entirely believe you.”

“We must stop,” the first gentleman said. “Here comes the gentleman Posthumus Leonatus, the Queen, and Princess Imogen.”

The two gentlemen exited.

The Queen said to Imogen, “No, be assured you shall not find me, stepdaughter, despite the bad reputation of most stepmothers, evil-eyed toward you. You’re my prisoner, but your jailer shall give you the keys that lock up your prison.

“As for you, Posthumus, as soon as I can win over the offended King, I will be your advocate; however, the fire of rage is still in him, and it would be good if you gave in to his sentence with whatever patience your wisdom may give to you.”

“If it please your highness,” Posthumus said, “I will go away from here today.”

“You know the danger,” the Queen said. “I’ll take a walk in the garden, pitying your pangs of barred affections, and allow you two to be together, although the King has ordered that you two should not speak together.”

The Queen exited.

Imogen, who disliked the Queen, said, “Oh, hypocritical kindness and courtesy! How well this tyrant can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband, I somewhat fear my father’s wrath, but although I will always honor my father, I do not fear what his rage can do to me. You must go into exile, and I shall here endure the continual glances of angry eyes. I will not enjoy the comforts of life, except that I know I may see again a jewel — you — who is in the world.”

Posthumus said to Imogen, “My Queen! My wife! Oh, lady, weep no more, lest I give cause to be suspected of crying and feeling more tender emotions than is suitable for a man. I will remain the most loyal husband who has ever made marriage vows. I will reside in Rome with a man named Philario who was a friend to my father, and to me is known only by letter. Write there to me, my Queen, and with my eyes I’ll drink the words you send, even if the ink with which they are written is made of gall.”

Gall, which was then used in making ink, is a bitter substance that oak trees exude.

The Queen returned and said, “Be quick, please. If the King comes here and sees you two together, I shall incur I don’t know how much of his displeasure.”

She thought, Yet I’ll persuade him to walk this way. I never do him wrong without him enduring my injuries in order to be friends with me. He pays dearly for my offences.

The Queen exited.

Posthumus said, “Even if we were to take as long to say goodbye as we have years left to live, the loathness to separate would grow. Adieu!”

“No, stay a little longer,” Imogen said. “If you were going to ride on horseback a while to get some fresh air, this kind of goodbye would be too little. Look here, love; this diamond ring belonged to my mother. Take it, sweetheart; keep it until you woo another wife, after I, Imogen, am dead.”

“What!” Posthumus said. “Another wife? You gentle gods, give me only this wife I have, and wrap up in a shroud any embracings for a new wife. Instead of a new wife, give me death!”

He put Imogen’s ring on his finger and said to it, “Remain here while sense can keep it on.”

Posthumus intended to wear the ring for the rest of his life.

He then said to Imogen, “And, sweetest, fairest, just as I my poor self did exchange for you, to your so infinite loss, so in our gifts I still get the better of you. You are a better person than I am, and your gift to me is better than my gift to you. For my sake, wear this; it is a manacle of love. I’ll place it upon this fairest prisoner.”

He put a bracelet on her arm.

Imogen said, “Oh, the gods! When shall we see each other again?”

King Cymbeline and some lords entered the garden.

“The King!” Posthumus said.

Seeing him, Cymbeline said, “You basest thing, leave! Go away, and get out of my sight! If after this command you burden the court with your unworthiness, you die! Go away! You are poison to my blood.”

“May the gods protect you!” Posthumus said. “And may they bless the good people who remain in the court! I am leaving.”

He exited.

Imogen said, “There cannot be a pain, even in dying, sharper than this pain is.”

Cymbeline said to her, “Oh, disloyal thing, you should make me feel younger, but instead you have heaped an age of years on me.”

“I beg you, sir, do not harm yourself with your vexation,” Imogen replied. “I am oblivious to your wrath; a pain more exquisite than your wrath subdues all my pains, all my fears.”

“Are you past grace? Past obedience?” Cymbeline asked.

Cymbeline used the word “grace” to mean “sense of propriety or sense of duty.”

“I am past hope, and I am in despair,” Imogen said. “In that way, I am past grace.”

Imogen used the word “grace” to mean “mercy or forgiveness.” According to Christianity, a person who is in despair and feels that God cannot forgive him or her will not repent and so will be condemned to spend eternity in Hell. Such a person commits a sin of pride by believing that he or she has committed a sin so great that God cannot forgive it; God is great and merciful and can and will forgive any sin as long as it is sincerely repented. Imogen, however, was despairing because she and her husband were separated.

“You could have married the sole son of my Queen!”

“I am blest that I did not!” Imogen replied. “I chose an eagle, and I avoided choosing an ignoble, greedy, grasping puttock — a kite, a bird of prey.”

“You married a beggar; you would have made my throne a seat for baseness.”

“No; instead, I added a luster to your throne.”

“Oh, you vile person!”

“Sir, it is your fault that I have loved Posthumus. You raised him as my playfellow, and he is a man who is worth any woman. The sum he paid for marrying me — exile — is almost more than I am worth.”

“Are you mad?” Cymbeline asked.

“I am almost insane, sir. May Heaven restore me! I wish I were the daughter of a cowherd, and my Posthumus Leonatus were the son of our neighbor the shepherd! Then we could be married without any problems.”

“You foolish thing!”

The Queen returned, and using the royal plural King Cymbeline said, “Posthumus and Imogen were together again. You have disobeyed our command.”

He then ordered his attendants, “Away with Imogen, and pen her up.”

“I beg you to be calm, Cymbeline,” the Queen said. “Peace, dear lady stepdaughter, peace! Sweet sovereign, leave us for a while. Think about this matter for a while, and you will feel much better.”

“No, let her languish and lose a drop of blood a day; and, when she is old, let her die from this folly!” Cymbeline said.

In this society, people believed that they lost a drop of blood each time they sighed. Cymbeline wanted his daughter to grieve and feel ill until she got old and died.

King Cymbeline and his lords exited.

The Queen said to him as he left, “Bah! You must give way. You must give in.”

Pisanio, a servant to Imogen and Posthumus, entered the garden.

The Queen said to Imogen, “Here is your servant.”

Then the Queen asked Pisanio, “How are you, sir! What news do you have?”

“My lord your son drew on my master. Your son drew his sword against my master, Posthumus.”

“No harm, I trust, is done?”

“There might have been, except that my master played rather than fought — he kept calm and was not angry,” Pisanio said. “They were parted by some gentlemen who were at hand.”

“I am very glad of it,” the Queen said.

Imogen said to the Queen, “Your son is the friend of my father; he takes his part.”

She added sarcastically, “He drew his sword upon an exile! Oh, what a brave sir! I wish they were both together in Africa and I was nearby with a needle so that I might prick whoever tried to withdraw from their fight.”

She then said to Pisanio, “Why have you come here from your master?”

“He commanded me to come here,” Pisanio replied. “He would not allow me to accompany him to the harbor.”

Pisanio handed Imogen a paper and said, “He left these notes concerning what commands I should be subject to when it pleased you to employ me.”

The Queen said to Imogen, “This man has been your faithful servant. I dare to bet my honor that he will remain your faithful servant.”

“I humbly thank your highness,” Pisanio said to the Queen.

“Please, let us walk awhile,” the Queen said to Imogen.

Imogen said to Pisanio, “About a half-hour from now, please come and talk with me. You shall at least go help my husband get onboard his ship. Leave me and do that.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Edgar Lee Masters: Minerva Jones (Spoon River Anthology)

I AM Minerva, the village poetess,
Hooted at, jeered at by the Yahoos of the street
For my heavy body, cock-eye, and rolling walk,
And all the more when “Butch” Weldy
Captured me after a brutal hunt.
He left me to my fate with Doctor Meyers;
And I sank into death, growing numb from the feet up,
Like one stepping deeper and deeper into a stream of ice.
Will some one go to the village newspaper,
And gather into a book the verses I wrote?—
I thirsted so for love
I hungered so for life!


Lao-Tzu #33: Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy.



Those who know others are intelligent;

those who know themselves are truly wise.

Those who master others are strong;

those who master themselves have true power.


Those who know they have enough are truly wealthy.


Those who persist will reach their goal.


Those who keep their course have a strong will.

Those who embrace death will not perish,

but have life everlasting.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Aesop: The Lion and the Statue

A Man and a Lion were discussing the relative strength of men and lions in general. The Man contended that he and his fellows were stronger than lions by reason of their greater intelligence. ‘Come now with me,’ he cried, ‘and I will soon prove that I am right.’ So he took him into the public gardens and showed him a statue of Hercules overcoming the Lion and tearing his mouth in two.

‘That is all very well,’ said the Lion, ‘but proves nothing, for it was a man who made the statue.’

We can easily represent things as we wish them to be.


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