davidbrucehaiku: fixed stars





The fixed stars don’t move,

unlike the planets, 

which wander in the welkin.


NOTE: The welkin is the sky. The fixed stars don’t move in relation to each other. Some of the fixed stars make up the constellations.


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There is only the ocean;
waves, tide, surf
are simply parts
of the whole.

I used to build sandcastles
close enough to seashore
that they’d wash away, clean
before I got attached.

I manufactured moats
drawbridges and gates
spiral towers to hide treasures
keeping intruders at bay.

I never did need knights
as much as I told myself I did
I was a fine protector
a kind ruler over myself

but you were like gills
and I breathed new air
the salt of the sea
the grit of the sand

and I decided I’d move
my sandcastle away
from that rising tide
and invite you in, too.

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David Bruce: Names Anecdotes

• Senator Chauncey Depew once made fun of President William Taft’s obesity by looking at his waistline, and then saying, “I hope, if it is a girl, Mr. Taft will name it for his charming wife.” President Taft overheard him and replied, “If it is a girl, I shall, of course, name it for my lovely helpmate of many years. And if it is a boy, I shall claim the father’s prerogative and name it Junior. But if, as I suspect, it is only a bag of wind, I shall name it Chauncey Depew.”

• As a politician, Jeremy Thorpe, former leader of the British Labour Party, was required to memorize a great many people’s names, especially since so many people come up to a politician and say, “You won’t remember me.” After a woman said this to him, Mr. Thorpe said, “Of course I remember you. You are Miss Bag.” She replied, “No. I am Miss Gas.”

• Figure skater Elvis Stojko is named after Elvis Presley. Although it seems natural for him to skate to Elvis’ music, he resisted doing so for years, waiting until exactly the right moment. In January 1994, after he won his first Canadian national championship, he skated to Elvis’ music at the exhibition. Only three people knew about the program beforehand — it was a surprise even to his Elvis Presley-loving parents.

• Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), an American dancer who took Paris by storm, started a dancing school whose pupils danced for her. The pupils’ real names were kept secret from the general public on the grounds that they were from prominent families which might be embarrassed by the publicity, and on the dance programs they were given pseudonyms such as Buttercup, Chocolate, Peach, Pinky, and Smiles.

• A ballet dancer started dancing under his real name, Patrick Kay, but when he joined the famous Diaghilev Russian Ballet, Mr. Sergei Diaghilev put his two names together to form a new name: Patrikieff. Later, the dancer changed his name to the one that is world famous: Anton Dolin.

• When he was 15 years old, Anton Dolin studied under dance teacher Nicolas Legat, who always called him by the nickname “Piccadilly.” Mr. Dolin didn’t understand the meaning of the nickname until they were traveling on a bus together. When the bus passed Piccadilly Circus, Mr. Legat pointed in its direction, and Mr. Dolin saw that he was pointing at a status of Eros.

• When Ian Fleming was looking for a simple, but solid, name for a British spy character in his novels, he looked over his book collection and found the perfect name in the ornithologist author of Birds of the West Indies: James Bond. Mr. Fleming met Mr. Bond after his books had made the name “James Bond” famous. Fortunately, Mr. Bond regarded it all as great fun.

• Suzanne Farrell was a great admirer of ballerina Diana Adams. Once, Ms. Adams gave her a pin of a mouse with painted whiskers and a long tail. Thereafter, Ms. Farrell pinned the mouse — despite its scratchy tail — inside her bra for good luck at important ballets. In addition, Ms. Farrell named her diary, to which she confided her inmost thoughts, “Diana.”

• In Jones County in West Texas is a mountain called Phantom Hill that General Robert E. Lee supposedly named. General Lee wanted to ride to the mountain, which he supposed was a hill only a few miles away, but after riding toward it for several hours and apparently being no closer to it than when he started, he gave it its name.

• H. Allen Smith once wrote a book titled People Named Smith. This was a financial move on his part, as he knew that if only five percent of the Smiths in the United States bought the book, he would be able to retire rich. Unfortunately, he discovered that “almost everyone named Smith is either (1) stingy, or (2) illiterate, or (3) both.”

• Wonderful nicknames have been used to refer to young ballet students. In Paris, the children who studied ballet at the Paris Opera were known as “les petits rats” — the short rats. In America, young female ballet students are often known as “bun heads” because of the way they wear their hair.

• Captain John Smith was an explorer of note, and an island he discovered near Cape Charles was named “Smith Island” after him. However, Captain Smith wasn’t happy with the island chosen to honor him, and he complained, “Why, I could spit across it.”

• In Rudolf Nureyev’s production of La Bayadereis a dance named “Adagio with Gauze for Solor and Nikiya” in which the characters Solor and Nikiya dance while holding the opposite ends of a long white scarf. Some ballet fans have re-named this dance the “Toilet-Paper Variation.”

• Neither Bud Abbott nor Lou Costello could remember names very well. Mr. Abbott called almost everyone “Neighbor,” and Mr. Costello called almost everyone “Tootsie.” One of their writers, Leonard Stern, introduced his wife to Mr. Costello as Mrs. Tootsie.

• Harry Hershfield made it a practice to always stand on the news photographer’s left for group photographs — that way, his name appeared first in the newspaper caption.

• In the ballet Giselle, two Wilis (vampires) are given prominent roles. They are named Moyna and Zulma, but American ballet companies often give them nicknames, such as Laverne and Shirley.

• Johann Sebastian Bach composed the famous “B-Minor Mass.” Its name comes from its opening, which is in B minor, although most of the Mass is in D major.

• ZaSu Pitts was a famous film comedienne of the 1920s and 1930s. Her first name was formed from the last two letters of the name of her aunt Elizaand first two letters of the name of her aunt Susan.

• Woody Allen says he decided to name a movie of his Bananas“because there are no bananas in it.”

• Fred Astaire had a pet cockatiel that he named Gregory — after a famous movie star — because it Pecked.

• An interestingly named opera singer is Siegfried Jerusalem.

• A high-scoring professional basketball player had the name World B. Free.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved




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