So you can read my books

Friday, April 11, 2014


“Don't look at me in that tone of voice.”
― Dorothy Parker

Ghost of Dorthoy Parker here --

On this day in 1931, I stepped down as drama critic for The New Yorker,

so ending the "Reign of Terror" I endured while reviewing plays, and that others endured while being reviewed by me.

Altogether I was a drama critic for only a half-dozen years in a 50-year career,

My Broadway days brought me first fame and occasioned some of my most memorable lines according to that flirt Twain:

“If you don't knit, bring a book."

"I'm not including names in this review, for I don't want to tell on them."

"Katharine Hepburn's striking performance ran the gamut of emotions from A to B."

On the use of “hummy” for “honey” in A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner:

“It is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.”

"There's a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit.

Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words."

After Hemingway swaggered the reins of this electronic journal, I thought to pluck them back for Roland.

You see Hemingway knows better than to box with me, for I dated him just long enough to see he wasn't a leopard ---

he just had liver spots.

I even wrote a poem of us:

"Little drops of grain alcohol
Little slugs of gin
Make the mighty notions
Make the double chin --

Lovely Mrs. Parker in the Algonquin
Loves her good dog Robinson
Keeps away from sin
Mr. Hemingway now wears glasses
Better to see to kiss the critics' asses."

On a sadder note, fitting more with noble outcast than outlaw:

The Hungarian novelist Sándor Márai was born on this day in 1900.

Fiercely anti-Nazi and anti-Communist, Márai fled Hungary in 1948 and refused to allow his work to be published there under any Communist regime:

"The human night is filled with the crouching forms of dreams, desires, vanities, self-interest, mad love, envy, and the thirst for revenge."

1905 --   Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity.

The revolutionary theory was first published in "Annalen der Physik," a major physics journal.

And if you expect me to say that title aloud, darling, you are going to have to get me drunk first!

The theory immediately rocked the scientific community, and is said to be the basis of modern physics.

1865 -- Abraham Lincoln made his last public speech.

   Lincoln's last speech centered on promoting the rights of African-Americans.

After hearing it, John Wilkes Booth, who had originally been planning to kidnap Lincoln,

was so angry that he decided to assassinate him instead.

So sad.  The pooled compassion of zealots wouldn't fill a teaspoon.

And their pooled common sense wouldn't fill an atom.

1775 -- The last sentence of death for witchcraft was passed in Germany.

Witchcraft remained punishable by death in many countries around the world throughout the 18th century,

though Germany and Switzerland were among the last two European countries to sentence suspected witches to death.

By the 21st century, the only country where witchcraft was still punishable by death was Saudi Arabia.

Ah, my poor sister witches:

          I am sister to the rain;
          Fey and sudden and unholy,
          Petulant at the windowpane,
          Quickly lost, remembered slowly.
First printed in New Yorker, (26 September 1926)

Apollo 13 on this day in 1970 launched to Moon; unable to land, returns in 6 days.

Reminds me of many a night on the town for me:

I wish I could drink like a lady.
“Two or three,” at the most.

But two, and I’m under the table—
And three, I'm under the host.

Now, on to my oft drinking buddy, under whose photo I wrote this caption --

"Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

"I am at heart a gentleman."
- Marlene Dietrich

On this date in 1942, Marlene Dietrich gave the first of many shows overseas for U.S. servicemen,

earning a death sentence from Adolph Hitler and the Medal of Freedom from America and the French Legion of Honor.

And providing a pivotal plot point in Roland's GHOST OF A CHANCE:

J represents William JAMES --

(not his brother, Henry James who renounced his citizenship in disgust at America. Washing your hands of a problem does not solve it, my dear.)

William James is considered the Father of American Psychology:

“We may be in the Universe as dogs and cats are in our libraries,

seeing the books and hearing the conversation, but having no inkling of the meaning of it all.”



  1. "their pooled common sense wouldn't fill an atom."
    So True!

  2. Lots of good stuff here. Dorothy Parker has said some of the best things. She is eminently quotable.

    The James brothers... I can understand feeling disillusioned and disgusted by your government. But, as you say, washing your hands of something doesn't change or solve anything.

  3. David:
    Yet, in this age of the atom that lack may be the end of all of us. Brrr.

    Yes, she did.

    Her quips and habits became characters in a half-dozen plays:

    to the point that when a publisher offered big money for her autobiography,

    she said that she couldn't because she'd be sued for plagiarism. :-)

    I still read William James to listen to a fascinating mind.

    Thanks for visiting and chatting with me.

  4. Two strong women: Dorothy Parker and Marlene D.; we need more strong women, less Anastasia-types. As for James,not that familiar with him, but love to read about these interesting details that you have chosen for your readers. Merci.

    Do you consider Dorothy and Marlene as outlaws? Subtle outlaws perhaps. . .

  5. Lincoln's last speech - sad.
    Dorthoy Parker was snarky! Bet they were glad when she stepped down.

  6. The hatred of zealots, so often buried under the cover of religion, is very frightening. I love Mrs. Parker, the things she said...

    I'm not familiar with either of the James brothers. I know a little, but not enough to have any feelings or opinions about them.

  7. The ghost of a critic? I wonder if a horror writer has touched on that yet. Lincoln's last speech was truly a great one. :)

  8. D.G.:
    Henry James is a hard read for most, me included. William James was a pioneer of psychological theory and thinking. I enjoy Bill more. :-)

    Marlene was an actual outlaw ... she had a death sentence on her head. Since for 3 years, she stayed on the front lines, entertaining the troops, her life was repeatedly in danger. Once the camp she was in was over-run by Nazi troops --

    If they had captured her, torture and death would have been her fate. After the 3 years without a movie, Hollywood considered her to be too old to be a romantic lead anymore. GOLDEN EARRINGS proved the studio heads wrong.

    Dorothy was a maverick -- which is kissing cousins to outlaw! :-)

    Dorothy lived an unhappy life of alcohol addiction and suicide attempts -- her inner pain washed out in snarky comments. Sad. :-(

    I imagine God will have a few words for the zealots who mis-spoke in his name, killing children in His Name. Brrr.

    David P.:
    The ghost of a critic would, indeed, make for a good horror story!!

    I often think of how improved America's recovery from the Civil War would have been if only Lincoln had not been murdered. :-(

  9. I love that Dorothy Parker quote. I need to say that more often. ;)

    I love learning about witches and witchcraft, so I especially found that bit interesting.

    And I enjoyed that poem, too. :p

  10. And if you can't (for whatever reason) live the life you want, find something to love in the one you do inhabit. Dorothy Parker's life was frequently difficult - but she never stopped laughing. Black laughter perhaps - but very real. And I love the mirror she held up so others could see and recognise that their pain was shared.

  11. Chrys:
    Glad you liked the quote and the witches! :-) Dorothy's words were often evocative rather than snarky.

    Elephant's Child:
    Indeed you are right. Laughter is sometimes our light in the storm. So often pain tunnel-visions our perspective, blinding us to the grief of others -- you're right there. :-)

  12. Another fascinating ghostly visit.

  13. I love Dorothy Parker. Her short stories could be very moving (surprise!), and her wit was brilliant. Yes, she was a sad alcoholic, but in the end she fought for civil rights and left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr. This is why the NAACP dedicated a memorial garden to her with words that included: "Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic. Defender of human and civil rights." Not a bad legacy.

  14. Thanks, Taryn!

    Dorothy was a bruised hero but a hero nonetheless. She met life's pain with laughter, wit, and compassion for the underdog.

    Yes, it is a great legacy, isn't it?