In the age of minority rule, a Supreme Court justice appointed by a president who got fewer votes is confirmed by a party in the Senate that got fewer votes, to validate policies opposed by most Americans. Paul Waldman, journalist“In the age of minority rule, a Supreme Court justice appointed by a president who got fewer votes is confirmed by a party in the Senate that got fewer votes, to validate policies opposed by most Americans.” — Art of Quotation
Day: September 3, 2020
David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books — Education
• At Columbia University, author Corey Ford was so busy that he didn’t have time to read any books for his course in 18th-century literature with Professor Harrison Ross Steeves. Mr. Ford skipped the final examination, then arranged for an oral examination, at which he appeared totally unread and unprepared. After Mr. Ford answered the first question — and got the sex wrong of a major literary character — Professor Steeves handed him a contemporary book to read, then gave him a gentleman’s C for the course.
• In his book A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain wrote about the lecture system at Heidelberg, where attendance was not mandatory. Often, only a few students showed up for especially arcane lectures. Mr. Twain told of a lecturer who spoke day after day to an audience consisting of three students. One day, two of the students were away, and only one student showed up for the lecture. The lecturer began his remarks as usual by saying, “Gentlemen,” corrected himself and said, “Sir,” then went on with his lecture.
• E.B. White is the famous author of Charlotte’s Web and many books of essays, and he learned about writing wherever he could, including from his English professor at Cornell, William Strunk, author of a small book titled Elements of Style. Another helpful advisor was a Mr. Johns, city editor at the Seattle Times. Mr. White was seeking the best way to phrase something, and he asked Mr. Johns for help. Mr. Johns gave him this very good advice: “Just say the words.”
• Humorist Robert Benchley attended Harvard, where he became editor of the Lampoon. Just before finals, he became very ill. Unable to get out of bed for his International Law final, he had a proctor give him the exam in his bedroom. An essay question on the final concerned the Newfoundland Fisheries case, and he wrote about the case using the point of view of a fish. (Mr. Benchley’s professor gave him an F, which kept him from getting a degree at Harvard until later.)
• Show the haters that they are wrong. Robert DeMott and Dave Smith became friends in the early 1970s. They had a number of things in common that facilitated their friendship: they were or would become editors, scholars, teachers, and writers, plus both had been told as undergraduates by professors that they “were not smart enough or able enough to amount to much in the ‘real’ world” — predictions that they ignored. Mr. DeMott became a noted John Steinbeck scholar, and Mr. Smith became a noted poet.
• When Michael Moore, author of Stupid White Men, was in his sophomore year in college, he tried for an hour to find a parking space so he could get out of his car and go to class. After an hour, he gave up and shouted, “That’s it — I’m dropping out!” Then he went home and told his parents that he was dropping out of school. When they asked him why, he explained, “I couldn’t find a parking space.” He never attended class again.
• When Peg Bracken, author of I Hate to Cook Book, started writing, she would often type the first page of a famous short story for inspiration. Often, she discovered that the page did not look as impressive typed on a sheet of paper as it did printed on a page in a book, so sometimes she would imitate her English professor and write on the sheet of paper: “You can do better than this, Mr. Faulkner.”
• While living in Burr Oak, Iowa, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie, used to live above a grocery store. In the afternoons, she and her sister practiced elocution — reading out loud with feeling — for school. They didn’t know it, but grocery store customers used to come by regularly and stand where they could hear the girls read exciting stories and poems.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Books — Buy:
Music Recommendation: Manda Marble — “Cold Summer”
BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC
Music: “Cold Summer”
Artist: Manda Marble
Artist Location: Columbus, Ohio
Info: Manda fronted the rock band Manda and the Marbles.
Price: $2 (USD) for track
Genre: Folk. Singer-Songwriter