• A member of President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet was ambitious to be President, and some of Lincoln’s friends advised him to squelch the cabinet-member’s ambition. However, President Lincoln said the situation reminded him of a time when he was plowing with a slow horse, and suddenly the horse began pushing the plow so quickly that he had to run to keep up with the horse and the plow. When he came to the end of the row, he looked at the horse and discovered that a chin-fly was biting the horse, so he knocked it off. His brother had then criticized him, saying that the chin-fly was the only thing making the horse go. President Lincoln then told his advisors about the cabinet-member, “If he has a Presidential chin-fly biting him, I’m not going to knock it off, if it will only make his department go.”
• Gioacchino Rossini used to boast about his procrastinating abilities, which caused music managers to tear their hair as they waited for him to finish composing a piece of music. In a letter, Mr. Rossini boasted, “In Italy, in my time, all the managers were bald at thirty.” For example, Mr. Rossini composed the overture to Otelloonly after being locked in a room with a little food while a manager waited for the music. While composing the overture to La Gazza Ladra, Mr. Rossini was watched by four men. These men took each page of the overture as it was written, then threw it to the copyists, who were waiting in a downstairs room. According to Mr. Rossini, the four men had orders to throw himdownstairs if he failed to deliver the overture.
• Max Schulman was the creator of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis— both the TV series and the books the series was based on. He was quite an original guy. In the fourth year of the series, Bob Denver, who played beatnik Maynard G. Krebs, read a script that seemed familiar. It turned out that Mr. Shulman had found a Writers Guild ruling which said he could submit an old script if 40 percent of it had been changed. Therefore, he had his secretary count the words in a script from the first season, then he changed exactly 40 percent of the words. When Mr. Denver asked why he had done that, Mr. Shulman replied that his secretary didn’t have enough to do.
• When Robert Briscoe, the Jewish mayor of Dublin, Ireland, visited Egypt, he engaged the services of a guide for a while, paying him £1 a day. Discovering that he was overpaying the guide, he fired him, and then engaged a new guide for 5 shillings. Later, the guide he had fired asked to be rehired, saying that he was willing to work for 10 shillings a day. Mr. Briscoe asked, “Why should I be paying you 10 shillings when this other chap gives me good service for 5?” The guide replied, “He is a very lazy man. He has only one wife — I have three.” Mr. Briscoe reengaged him. Why? “His sense of humor was worth the difference.”
• I.T. Frary used to handle publicity for the Cleveland Museum of Art. As a young man new to the staff, he was once hushed in the museum library because he was speaking above a whisper. At night, when the museum was closed and no one was around, Mr. Frary let out a series of loud whoops in the library and felt much better. Other people felt the same way as Mr. Frary about museums — despite being museums, they need not be stuffy. Late at night, when no one else was around, Mr. Frary and a clergyman friend once straddled the museum’s marble balustrades and slid down.
• Constance Benson (1860-1946) worked with actor Stephen Phillips in 1886, when he was no longer interested in his career. While playing Prospero in Shakespeare’s Tempeston stage, he pretended his wand was a fishing pole and dangled it over the orchestra pit. As the play proceeded, he murmured to Ms. Benson in asides which fish he had caught, and from which musical instrument he had caught them.
• The Irish sometimes have a casual attitude to work. Actress Constance Benson once asked an Irish porter to label her trunk because she was travelling from Limerick to Waterford. The porter scratched his head, put a label on her trunk, and then told her, “I haven’t got a label for Waterford, so I’ve put ye one on for Cork.”
• Edward Kennedy ran for the Senate when he was young, and his opponent tried to get the voters mad at him by saying that Mr. Kennedy had never worked a day in his life. The plan didn’t work. Once a voter shook Mr. Kennedy’s hand, then said, “Mr. Kennedy, I understand that you’ve never worked a day in your life. Let me tell you, you haven’t missed a thing.”
• Alexander Hamilton served as George Washington’s secretary, but he was often late to meetings, placing the blame on a malfunctioning watch. After Mr. Hamilton was late once too often, Mr. Washington told him, “Sir, you must provide yourself a new watch, or I a new Secretary.”
• At age 10, comedian Joe Cook got his first job in show business by using a photograph of himself juggling 17 balls. The photograph was faked — the balls were hung from the ceiling with invisible wires.
• “My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.” — Abraham Lincoln.
• “I am always for the man who wishes to work.” — Abraham Lincoln.
• Richard Wagner wrote a little more than an hour of music per year — in 53 years as a composer, he wrote approximately 61 hours of music.
• A new church secretary had previously worked for the Pentagon — he labeled the church files as “Sacred” and “Top Sacred.”
• “It is better for a man to skin animal carcasses than to say to the community: ‘Support me, I am a great sage.’” — Bava Batra, 110a.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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