David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Death

Death

• While traveling, Mark Twain and his friends tortured irritating tour guides by constantly asking if someone was dead. For example, when a tour guide showed them a bust of Christopher Columbus, they would ask, “Is he dead?” Once, Mr. Twain and friends visited the Capuchin Cemetery, where the bones of dead monks were used to make arches and other ornaments. One of the exhibitions of the cemetery was the corpse of a monk who had been dead for 150 years. Mr. Twain decided to cut the tour short because he could tell that his friends were tempted to ask, “Is he dead?”

• Children’s author Roald Dahl almost died because of careless instructions. During World War II, he was told to fly to a certain airbase but when he arrived nothing was there because his instructions were off by 50 miles. Low on fuel and with night approaching, he decided to try to land the plane. He crashed, and he suffered serious head injuries. Fortunately, he managed to get out of the plane. The burning plane attracted the attention of some British soldiers and Mr. Dahl was taken to a military hospital.

• Dorothy Parker was cremated after her death. She greatly admired Martin Luther King, Jr., and she bequeathed her estate to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her ashes are at the headquarters of the NAACP, which dedicated a memorial garden to her memory. The marker in the garden says, “This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit, which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people.”

• As a man who has spent much time in the wilderness, Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet, has seen corpses of people who have died of many things, including “blatant stupidity.” In one remarkable case, a man went cross-country skiing in the dead of winter but neglected to take along matches or a lighter. He broke his leg and froze to death, although enough wood was around him to have kept thousands of people warm.

• Robert Benchley and Charles MacArthur attended the funeral of a friend whose wake had been held in a third-floor walk-up apartment. After the service, the pallbearers picked up the coffin and started to carry it down a twisting staircase that forced them to hold the coffin in a slanted position. Watching them, Mr. Benchley commented, “Oh my, the change will fall out of his pocket.”

• A man asked Scottish poet Robert Burns to lend him his black coat so he could attend a funeral the following day. Mr. Burns replied that he would be attending that funeral, so he could not lend him his black coat. But he suggested, “I can recommend the most excellent substitute. Throw your character over your shoulders. That will be the blackest coat you ever wore in your lifetime.”

• While writing Roots, Alex Haley became depressed. He suffered from writer’s block, and he traveled on a ship to Africa, hoping that it would help him to write. One night, he thought about throwing himself overboard and drowning, but then he heard the voices of his ancestors, including Kunta Kinte and his grandmother, speak to him and tell him that he had to finish Roots.

• Quentin Crisp, author of The Naked Civil Servant, could be bitchy when confronted by public displays of grief over the deaths of celebrities whom the mourners did not know. When a crying woman ran into a cafe where Mr. Crisp was sitting and dramatically announced that the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas had died, Mr. Crisp asked, “Was he a relation of yours?”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Hot Blood” from the album SOULS FOR SALE

Artist: Verbena

Artist Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Record Company: Fat Possum Records

Info: Released 7 January 2020

Verbena is a flower

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for 10-track album

Genre: Rock

Links:

Verbena on Bandcamp

https://verbenamusic.bandcamp.com

SOULS FOR SALE

https://verbenamusic.bandcamp.com/album/souls-for-sale

Fat Possum Records

https://fatpossumrecords.bandcamp.com

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Couples, Critics

Couples

• Humorist H. Allen Smith made a trip with his wife to visit places he had lived at as a young man. He and his wife went to visit a dance club where Mr. Smith had very happy memories of squiring his girlfriends. They discovered that the dance club had been torn down and its foundation was in the middle of a pasture where a goat was grazing. Mr. Smith’s wife told him, “I see one of your old girlfriends is left.”

• English critic Sir Max Beerbohm and his aging wife went to a party. Sir Max was immediately surrounded by many beauties who wanted to impress him, but as soon as it was proper for him to leave the party, he turned to his wife and said, “Darling, let’s go to a restaurant and find a quiet corner. You are looking so charming tonight that I want to talk to you alone.”

• Beatrice Kaufman, the wife of playwright George S., was brilliant in her own right. Playing the game “Ask Me Another,” which bored her, she was asked, “Who wrote The Virginian?” Having correctly answered “Owen Wister,” she was asked the next question, “Who wrote The Virginians?” This time she answered “Owens Wisters.”

• G.K. Chesterton was disorganized in his personal life, and he relied on his wife to keep track of his appointments. One day, he sent her a telegram: “AM IN MARKET HARBOROUGH. Where ought I to be?” She wired him back: “HOME.”

• Gail Parent writes comedy, which has occasionally led to problems. While she was in college, a suitor gave her one perfect rose. She ruined what could have been a tender romantic moment by asking, “Where are the other eleven?”

Critics

• Pat Hutchins wrote a children’s book titled The Mona Lisa Mystery, in which someone smuggles the famous painting from the museum by wrapping it around a leg then wrapping a bandage over the painting. After the book was published, a child wrote her to say that the painting could not be smuggled out of the museum in that way — the Mona Lisa is painted on wood. Ms. Hutchins did some extra research and discovered that the child was right.

• The Ukrainian playwright O.E. Korneychuk wrote plays praising the Communists of the USSR. In one underground joke, Comrade Korneychuk said that he had put a lot of fire into his new play. A theater-goer replied, “It would have been better if it had been the other way around.”

• Ballerina Margot Fonteyn was so famous that she had huge numbers of press clippings, most of which she neglected to read. However, one notice did give her special satisfaction: “Margot Fonteyn, who has triumphed in many more exotic places, last night conquered Flatbush.”

• Dorothy Parker — who signed her book reviews in The New Yorker as “Constant Reader” — disliked cutesy children’s books. She wrote this review of A.A. Milne’s House at Pooh Corner: “Tonstant Weader fwowed up.”

• Walter Savage Landor enjoyed criticizing many, many things. Once he even criticized the Psalms! Hearing this, a friend of his, Marguerite, Countess Blessington, smiled and said, “Do write something better, Mr. Landor.”

• After being barred from seeing the opening of a play, columnist Walter Winchell wrote that he would wait three days and see the play’s closing.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: Jeffrey Detrick — “Not Guilty”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Not Guilty” from the two-song single UNSUNG BEATLES

Artist: Jeffrey Detrick

Artist Location: San Diego, California

Record Company:

Info: “Jeffrey is a pop, rock and R&B vocalist and songwriter based in Southern California. 

“Jeffrey is a nationally recognized Creative Director and advertising agency owner with national writing and vocal credits on hundreds of jingles, and commercials for Radio and Television. He has been recognized with 17 International Broadcast Awards, a multitude of songwriter contests and a Clio.”

“A two-song single of two lesser-known solo Beatle songs performed by singer-songwriter Jeffrey Detrick, background vocals by Jennifer Lee.

“‘Not Guilty’ was written by George Harrison, 1968, and is an outtake from the Beatles WHITE ALBUM period. It was later released on THE BEATLES ANTHOLOGY III, George also recorded his own version on his self-titled GEORGE HARRISON album in 1978. 

“‘Pure Gold’ was written by Paul McCartney for Ringo Starr’s Rotogravure album, 1976. 

Price: $1 for track; Name Your Price (Includes FREE) for two-song album

Genre: Pop

Links:

Jeffrey Detrick on Bandcamp

https://jeffreydetrick.bandcamp.com

UNSUNG BEATLES

https://jeffreydetrick.bandcamp.com/album/unsung-beatles

“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits…” — Art of Quotation

Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination. Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm […]

“Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits…” — Art of Quotation

“Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.“ — Art of Quotation

“Federal criminal law (18 USC 1701): Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.“ Eric Holder, Attorney General, twitter post, 8/14/2020

“Whoever knowingly and willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail, or any carrier or conveyance carrying the mail, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.“ — Art of Quotation

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Comedians, Couples

Comedians

• When visiting Robert Graves, comedian Terry-Thomas felt that perhaps he had offended the famous poet with his sense of over-confidence because instead of having an intellectual discussion about Greek mythology, all Mr. Graves talked to him about was compost, frequently sticking a fork into various maturing piles and making Terry-Thomas smell them.

• Anne Beatts, a writer for Saturday Night Live, used to keep a hospital bed in her office at Rockefeller Center. She used it for writing (her typewriter sat where the food tray would normally sit), instead of a desk and chair.

Couples

• At age 40, children’s book author Lois Lowry got divorced and started dating, a process she hated, mostly because the men who took her out told her things like they had a wife but were thinking seriously of getting divorced or they had a problem with alcohol but were thinking seriously of quitting drinking. One day, she wore an expensive dress on a date with a rich man who opened the door on what she thought was the driver’s side of his car and motioned for her to get in. She said, “I’d really prefer that you drive,” and he replied, “I’m going to. The steering wheel’s on the other side of a Rolls [Rolls-Royce].” Later, she was watching an episode of Kate and Allie when one of the stars took out a dress from a closet — the same dress that she had been wearing on the date with the rich man — and the other star made fun of it. After that, she still wore the dress, but she didn’t like it as much. Fortunately, on another date she met another man, Martin, who quoted the Babar the Elephant books and who grew a beard after she said that she preferred men who had beards. Today, she shares her life with Martin.

• Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Meyer Berger used to do odd jobs around the house while thinking about how to write an article. One day, the deadline was approaching for a difficult magazine article, so his wife decided to leave him at home so he could write. She entertained some visitors, taking them to a movie and dinner, and when she returned, she discovered that her husband hadn’t typed a single word — but he had polished the silver and run the vacuum cleaner. However, the time spent doing housework was also time spent planning the article. The next day, Mr. Meyer sat down before the typewriter and quickly wrote a very good article.

• As a young man, Dean Koontz kept writing novels and also worked to earn a living, but although he published some books, his writing career seemed to be going nowhere. His wife, Gerda, saw that her husband was worried, so she offered to support him for five years as he wrote, saying, “If you can’t make it in five years, you never will.” Mr. Koontz accepted her offer, and after quitting his job, he started writing for sixty hours a week. At the end of the five years, Mr. Koontz had succeeded to such an extent that his wife quit her job to manage the business end of her husband’s writing career.

• When Kate Mostel and Madeline Gilford decided to write a book of autobiography and anecdotes in conjunction with their famous husbands, Zero Mostel and Jack Gilford, Mr. Mostel was reluctant at first and thought his wife was wasting her time, but after reading a few pages of her writing, he became enthusiastic. In fact, he made a writing room for Kate in their home, and he bought her a writing desk. When a salesman showed him a little writing desk, he said, “No, no. That’s too small. We need a serious writing desk. My wife’s a writer.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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MUSIC RECOMMENDATION: THE EMPTY HEARTS — “Remember Days Like These”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Remember Days Like These” from the album THE SECOND ALBUM

Artist: The Empty Hearts

Artist Location: Los Angeles, California

Record Company: Wicked Cool Records

Info:

The Empty Hearts Are: 

Clem Burke – Drums, Vocals 
Elliot Easton – Lead Guitar, Vocals 
Wally Palmar – Lead Vocal, Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica 
Andy Babiuk – Bass, Vocals 

Ringo Starr – Drums on “Remember Days Like These” 

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $8.99 (USA) for 13-track album

Genre: Rock

Links:

The Empty Hearts on Bandcamp

https://theemptyhearts.bandcamp.com

THE SECOND RECORD

https://theemptyhearts.bandcamp.com/album/the-second-album?utm_campaign=theemptyhearts%20album%20the-second-album&utm_source=album_release&utm_content=fanpub_fb_pr&utm_medium=email

Wicked Cool Records

https://wickedcoolrecords.bandcamp.com