David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Editors, Education


• When Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Black Arrow as a serial story for Young Folks magazine, the proofreader of Young Folks helped him by pointing out some errors with the story — Mr. Stevenson had lost track of the fourth arrow and of some of his characters.

• Richard Peck, author of such children’s books as Secrets of the Shopping Mall, had an excellent experience with the manuscript of his first novel. He took it himself to an editor, and the very next morning the editor called to tell him, “Start your second novel.”


• Isaac Asimov’s parents believed that he ought to go to school when he had learned to read. Therefore, his mother lied about his age. He was five but had to be six to go to school, so she added a few months to his age. Not until the third grade, when Isaac was asked his date of birth, did school officials discover the error. Isaac performed well in elementary school — he used to read all his textbooks during the first week of school, with the result that he frequently skipped a grade because he already knew the material the teacher was teaching. Another thing that contributed to Isaac’s education was the public library — actually two public libraries, since he lived on the boundary line separating them. He frequently visited both the Brooklyn Public Library and the Queens Public Library, often reading the books on his way back from the library and so failing to recognize his friends on the sidewalk. Mr. Asimov, of course, became a renowned author, and he once wrote, “During my childhood as a member of an ambitious but very poor immigrant family, I did my reading and obtained nine-tenth of my learning in the public library. It frightens me to think what I might have become — and what I might have failed to become — without one.”

• Some lessons are remembered many years after they are taught. In the fifth grade, a young Ralph Nader watched as his teacher, Ms. Thompson, wrote on the chalkboard, “LOST: 60 SECONDS. DON’T BOTHER LOOKING FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE GONE FOREVER!” This lesson was his best and most memorable in both his fifth-grade and his sixth-grade years. Unfortunately, another lesson Ralph learned was memorable for a bad reason. In the third grade, a very young Ralph got into trouble for correcting his teacher. She called the local library a public library, but Ralph pointed out that it was a memorial library, something that he had learned from his parents, who valued charity. Young Ralph was right, but his teacher made him sit in the dunce chair in the corner anyway. His parents valued education. His father told him, “Imagine what a bargain books are for readers. The author spends months or years writing a book. You reap the benefit of all that effort in just a few hours.” And if any of her children appeared to suffer from a case of educational overconfidence, his mother would tell them, “You better be a genius, because you’ve clearly decided to stop learning.”

• Chris Crutcher, author of books for young adults, was not himself a reader while he was in school. However, during the sixth grade, he was assigned to read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and after reading the first chapter, he was hooked — he couldn’t put the book down. However, Mr. Crutcher admits, “When I say I couldn’t put a book down, I mean I read it inside a month.” At this point, he was on the verge of becoming a reader. Unfortunately, the next book he was assigned to read was George Eliot’s Silas Marner, which made him believe that only one good book had been written in the entire history of the world, and he had already read it.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: L.A. Witch — “Fire Starter”


Music: “Fire Starter”


Artist: L.A. Witch

Artist Location: Los Angeles, California

Record Company: Suicide Squeeze Records

Record Company Location: Seattle, Washington


“Where L.A. Witch’s self-titled album oozed with vibe and atmosphere, with the whole mix draped in reverb, sonically placing the band in some distant realm, broadcast across some unknown chasm of time, PLAY WITH FIRE comes crashing out of the gate with a bold, brash, in-your-face rocker ‘Fire Starter.’ The authoritative opener is a deliberate mission statement. ‘PLAY WITH FIRE is a suggestion to make things happen,’ says Sanchez. ‘Don’t fear mistakes or the future. Take a chance. Say and do what you really feel, even if nobody agrees with your ideas. These are feelings that have stopped me in the past. I want to inspire others to be freethinkers even if it causes a little burn.’ And by that line of reasoning, “Fire Starter” becomes a call to action, an anthem against apathy. From there, the album segues into the similarly bodacious rocker ‘Motorcycle Boy’—a feisty love song inspired by classic cinema outlaws like Mickey Rourke, Marlon Brando, and Steve McQueen. At track three, we hear L.A. Witch expand into new territories as ‘Dark Horse’ unfurls a mixture of dustbowl folk, psychedelic breakdowns, and fire-and-brimstone organ lines. And from there, the band only gets more adventurous. PLAY WITH FIRE is a bold new journey that retains L.A. Witch’s siren-song mystique, nostalgic spirit, and contemporary cool. Despite the stylistic breadth of the record, there is a unifying timbre across the album’s nine tracks, as if the trio of young musicians is bound together as a collective of old souls tapping into the sounds of their previous youth.”

“Los Angeles has always been a home for misplaced souls, and L.A Witch has the sound to go with it, dripping with nostalgia, heavy reverb, and glamour.” — NYLON 

“Sanchez sounds like she genuinely might steal your car and your soul, and then drive them both through the darkness to Hell.” — VICE 

“As one might expect of a band called L.A. Witch, this West Coast trio plays pitch-black pop-rock wrapped in blankets of reverb.” — Consequence of Sound 

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $8 (USD) for nine-track album

Genre: Garage Rock.


L.A. Witch on Bandcamp




Suicide Squeeze Records