The American Scholar introduces its podcast series. Click below -- or here -- for an intro:
The American Scholar introduces its podcast series. Click below -- or here -- for an intro:
I write as one who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1980 with the possible exception of 2004. This is not to claim special powers of prophecy for myself. Rather it is the result of a mathematical algorithm based on statistical analyses of each of the past twenty-five election cycles, taking into account the peculiarities of a system in which it is altogether possible that a candidate who wins the popular vote may yet lose the election due to the disproportionate power of states as tabulated by the so-called electoral college or, in extremely rare cases, the Supreme Court.
A value-neutral approach to presidential cycles indicates a perhaps surprising tendency on the part of the electorate. In brief, this tendency manifests itself as a loyalty to certain states of the union -- California, for example, as the most populous state, which has given us Nixon and Reagan, and Texas, as the "lone star" state, home of LBJ and George W. Bush..
According to the statistical formula devised by Peat Marwick, confirmed by Pete Runnels, and corroborated by Peter Campbell, with modifications introduced by pundits Arthur Buchwald and George Gordon, the state that is due, indeed overdue, to host the next president is the state of New York, which has not been represented in the White House since the three-plus terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932-1945).
The Roosevelt aura won him four elections but led to a backlash against the Empire State, which helps account for the defeat of Thomas Dewey in 1948 and the inability of Nelson Rockefeller to get himself nominated, as by rights he should have been, in 1964. The emergence of William Miller as the GOP's VP candidate in 1964 and Geraldine Ferraro as the Democrats' VP candidate in 1984, does little to assuage the feelings of New Yorkers who have come to resent Massachusetts as the home state of one recent president (Kennedy), two presidential nominees (Dukakis, Romney), and the Boston Red Sox. But denizens of the Big Apple need worry no more.
According to the rule of four-year recurrence, New York's comeback is inevitable. It is therefore an utter certainty that the next president of the United States will be a New Yorker whether by birth or by choice.
I am willing to bet a large amount of money on this prediction though I suspect that the logic behind my reasoning, if grasped in good faith by the Tattaglias and Barzini, will allow for no dissent.
Although the algorithm is the intellectual property of the Santino Foundation and cannot be revealed on penalty of a lawsuit, I will say that the principle of the four-year term, divided by the hundred years in a century, results invariably in a ratio of one to four. Ohio had its Taft and Harding, and now it is New York's turn to bring home the bacon. As Ira Gershwin put it, there's a boat that's leaving soon for New York.
NB: Minnesota, home of near-miss candidate Humphrey and landslide loser with dignity Mondale, may well be next in line, though Arizona (Goldwater, McCain) will put up a furious fight four years hence.
-- David Lehman
Red Smith would never have predicted that the illustrious Library of America would collect the columns he typed on short deadlines for the New York Herald Tribune, publish them lovingly, and dub him "America's greatest sportswriter." The involvement of the Library of America -- which has published two volumes by A. J. Liebling, including The Sweet Science, his masterly book on boxing -- reflects the growing recognition of sportswriting as a craft and Smith's elevated standing in the scribe's fraternity.
Smith sat in the press box and, in his phrase, "opened a vein" when it came time to stare at the typewriter. Barely minutes had gone by since Bobby Thomson won the 1951 pennant for the Giants ("Reality has strangled invention"), or Rocky Marciano knocked out Archie Moore (Rocky threw "a left that made him curtsy like a convent girl"), or Secretariat pulled away from the field at Belmont on my birthday in 1973 ("It seems a little greedy to win by thirty-one lengths," the horse's owner said), or the Yankees beat the Dodgers for their fifth World Championship in a row twenty years earlier. The title of the last piece mentioned, a quote pulled from the piece (and not, alas, the original headline), is a beauty: "Like Rooting for U. S Steel." And I wondered whether the Godfather auteurs remembered this line about the New York Yankees and their fans when they had Hyman Roth -- celebrating his birthday in Cuba -- say "Michael, we're bigger than U. S. Steel."
It has been a long time since U. S. Steel was the measure of power, size, and importance, and American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith (edited by Daniel Okrent) comes from that time as remote from us and filled with nostalgic glamour as the early seasons of Mad Men. You could, if you were a lazier columnist than Smith, call it the golden age of American sport; certainly it might have seemed that way to a New Yorker spoiled by having three major league teams within subway distance. Joe DiMaggio patrolled center field for the Yankees, and when he stepped down, Mickey Mantle came along to take his place. Willie Mays played center for the Giants, who, with Leo Durocher at the helm ("a controversial guy, and that may be the the understatement of the decade"), were the unlikely victors of a four-game World Series sweep of Cleveland in 1954. Sugar Ray Robinson, the best fighter "pound for pound" in any weight class, performed regularly at the Garden. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, made West Point a college football powerhouse. Between 1949 and 1960, Casey Stengel managed the Yankees to ten pennants in twelve years. In 1947, Branch Rickey ("the greatest of all double-talk monologists") put a Dodger uniform on Jackie Robinson and revolutionized baseball.
Smith made an art of deadline sportswriting. He was especially handy with a simile. When Sugar Ray was past his prime, in one of the Carmen Basilio bouts, Smith conjectures: "Maybe, like an aging shortstop, he can no longer go to his right." Or consider these sentences from his piece about the 1947 World Series game in which the Dodgers' Cookie Lavagetto ruined the Yankees' Floyd Bevens's no-hit bid with a bottom-of-the-ninth game-winning two-out double. "In the third [inning] Johnny Lindell caught Jackie Robinson's foul fly like Doc Blanchard hitting the Notre Dame line and came to his feet unbruised. In the fourth Joe DiMaggio caught Gene Hermanski's monstrous drive like a well-fed banquet guest picking his teeth." In the same game, Tommy Henrich of the Yankees took a hit away from Hermanski: "Henrich backed against the board and leaped either four or fourteen feet into the air. He stayed aloft so long he looked like an empty uniform hanging in its locker. When he came down he had the ball."
To write for a newspaper requires a strict brevity of means. It takes artistry to write in short paragraphs, as in this one about Brooklyn southpaw Carl Erskine, hero of game five of the 1952 World Series: "Erskine is an agreeable young man with good habits and an equally good overhand cure. He does not drink, does not smoke, and does not choke in the clutch. On out-of-town business trips, while his playmates sit in the hotel lobby waiting for somebody to discard a newspaper, he visits art museums." There is wit in Smith's parallel structures. but what I like most is this glimpse into road-trip life, circa 1952.
Smith has his sour moments. He is down on Jersey Joe Walcott (for being old) and Ted Williams (for spitting his displeasure with the fans), He is right to voice a city's frustration and anguish when the Dodgers and Giants left for the West Coast at the end of the 1957 season. Their departure from New York "is an unrelieved calamity, a grievous loss to the city and to baseball, a shattering blow to the prestige of the National League, an indictment of the men operating the clubs and the men governing the city." Two years later, a certain amount of revisionism has taken hold. Baseball's West Coast expansion "was a development long overdue and greatly to be desired, but effected in an atmosphere of deceitful contriving which left the game wearing the dollar sign like a brand."
American Pastimes has been edited, and is introduced, with exemplary intelligence by Daniel Okrent. There is one error, the product of an oversight, that should be fixed in the next printing: In an October 1966 piece recollecting Fridays in previous decades at Madison Square Garden, Smith would never have referred to "Rocky Marciano's three wars with Tony Zale." It was a completely different Rocky, Graziano, a middleweight, who did battle with Zale. I make a point of it because Rocky Graziano was the first prize-fighter to take my fancy: I was eight years old and saw "Somebody Up There Likes Me" with my parents and sisters at a drive-in movie. Paul Newman played Graziano.
The sportswriter's occupational risk is hyperbole, and Smith is not exempt. Of Whirlaway, winner of the racing's Triple Crown the 1941, Smith writes, the colt "was Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones -- not just a champion but" -- you finish the sentence. The remarkable thing is how few lapses there are in such a long career.
Like Liebling, Red Smith writes with particular verve about Marciano. The undefeated heavyweight champion was "victorious, invincible, indestructible." But it is DiMaggio who best fits Smith's idea of the heroic athlete, the demigod who does everything with majesty and grace -- and is therefore the proper model for a prose stylist, doing his job with consistency and great skill and without ostentation or temperament. In a game against the Red Sox in 1950, Bobby Doerr hit what looked to be a sure double when "Joe raced in on a long angle to his left, thrust out his glove, palm up like a landlord taking a payoff under the table." When Joe retired in October 1951: "the simple, flat fact [is] that the greatest ballplayer of our day and one of the greatest of any day quit baseball yesterday." The last sentence in the last column Smith ever wrote was something he told himself whenever he felt disappointed with the current crop of ballplayers: "Some day there would be another Joe DiMaggio."
-- David Lehman
[This post appeared originally on our blog in 2013]
"A woe of ecstasy" -- Emily Dickinson's phrase: run with it. "Next Line, Please" invites you to write a brief poem beginning with this striking phrase.
Have you heard of Walter Lehmann? I write about Uncle Walter's poetry in the new issue of John Tranter's Journal of Poetics Research.
Among my father’s cousins, Walter Lehmann was exceptional in four ways: he kept the double n’s at the end of his surname; having escaped from Nazi Germany, he settled in Australia rather than England or the United States; he wrote poetry; and he was a fictional character, a persona and a pseudonym adopted by Gwen Harwood (1920-1995), an estimable Australian poet.
“A parlor game for a wet afternoon — imagining the mirrors of one's friends. A has a huge pier glass, gilded and baroque, B a discreet little pocket mirror in a pigskin case with his initials stamped on the back; whenever on looks at C, he is in the act of throwing his mirror away but, if one looks in his pocket or up his sleeve, one always finds another, like an extra ace.
“Most, perhaps all, our mirrors are inaccurate and uncomplimentary, though to varying degrees and in various ways. Some magnify, some diminish, others, whatever their owner does, will only return lugubrious, comic, derisive, or terrifying images.
“But the properties of our own particular mirror are not so important as we sometimes like to think. We shall be judged, not by the kind of mirror found on us, but by the use we have made of it, by our riposte to our reflection.”
[In “Lecture Notes,” in Commonweal, 6 November 1942, Auden begins this sequence of reflections with the sentence: “Every child, as he wakes into life, finds a mirror underneath his pillow.”]
A vain woman realizes that vanity is a sin, and in order not to succumb to temptation, has all the mirrors removed from her house. Consequently, in a short while she cannot remember what she looks like. She remembers that vanity is a sin, but she forgets that she is vain.
-- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (in Commonweal 6 Nov 1942) >>
Psychoanalysis, like all pagan scientia, says: "Come, my good man, no wonder you feel guilty. You have a distorting mirror, and that is indeed a very wicked thing to have. But cheer up, For a trifling consideration I shall be delighted to straighten it out for you. There. Look. A perfect image. The evil of distortion is exorcised. Now you have nothing to repent of any longer. Now you are one of the illumined and elect. That will be ten thousand dollars, please."
And immediately come seven devils, and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
-- W. H. Auden, "Lecture Notes" (1942)
Note: Multiply the bill by twelve for 2016 dollars. The devil count remains the same. -- DL
Alan Michael Parker is the author of The Ladder (Tupelo Press), his eighth collection of poems, along with four novels, including Christmas in July, forthcoming from Dzanc Books. He has edited or co-edited five books, including The Manifesto Project (with Rebecca Hazelton), to be published in January 2017, by the University of Akron Press. His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, two inclusions in Best American Poetry, the Fineline Prize, the 2013 and 2014 Randall Jarrell Prize in Poetry, the North Carolina Book Award, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Parker is the Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College. He also teaches in the University of Tampa’s low-residency M.F.A. program. More about Alan Michael Parker can be found at here. Follow him on twitter here.
Did you know that in college Richard Howard was known as Dick Howard? Or that Robert Gottlieb, one of the great names in American book publishing, got his first job (at Simon & Schuster) by writing, when asked to state why he wanted to work in publishing, that he found the task impossible "since it has never occurred to me to be in anything else"? These are among the facts and anecdotes that enliven every page of "Avid Reader," Robert Gottlieb's memoir of a life spent in publishing, which was published this week (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).
Though I feel like this book's ideal reader -- because, like the author, I went to Columbia, spent two post-graduate years in Cambridge (England), and have devoted my life to books -- I can recommend "Avid Reader" to anyone who would understand publishing as a profession and a business in the second half of the twentieth century and since. At S & S, Gottlieb was the wunderkind who revitalized the firm. He published a varied list ranging from William Shirer's monumental "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" to "Calories Don't Count." His great achievement was the publication of "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller, which was originally entitled "Catch 18" but had to be renamed because Leon Uris had come out with "Mila 18" about the Warsaw Ghetto. Gottlieb believes that Heller's "Something Happened," which disappointed the world, is even better than "Catch 22," so I promise to look for it next week at the Strand.
At Knopf, Gottlieb directed the list of the most prestigious (and "literary") of all New York houses, and for five years, he was at the helm of The New Yorker, succeeding William Shawn
If there is a moral to Gottlieb's memoir, it is that "personal conviction" is the most important thing that an editor brings to a book. The editor's job is not just to recognize the quality of the manuscript and to improve it but also to champion it, promote it, to share the good news. This is something that Gottlieb and his colleagues grasped before others did. But the anecdotes beat the morals.
Gottlieb has written on ballet and is co-editor of a volume of American songbook lyrics that I find indispensable. You will enjoy reading about "Dick" Howard, Lionel Trilling (whose generosity to the author was extraordinary),and Andrew Chiappe at Columbia; about F. R. Leavis and the Cambridge theatre scene in the 1950s; about "Mad Men" era New York; and about all the other arts in which Gotttlieb has a cultivated interest,.(His favorite things include plastic handbags from the 1950s.) There are a lot of pointers that everyone in publishing ought to have: "Titles and covers can make all the difference." For an editor nothing is more important than "personal conviction."
I loved learning that Bob Gottlieb liked reading till all hours and couldn't be bothered to attend morning lectures. I feel the same way. This is a sweet book.
-- David Lehman
In Russia, according to the Independent, a vodka-soaked advocate of poetry killed a prose partisan in a brawl. Last month, apparently, a similar dispute, with the same fatal outcome, occurred over the theories of Immanuel Kant.
When Stacey and I visited Russia, I breakfasted with a novelist and asked her whether she could write while drinking. She said: "My der David, if you could not write while drinking, there would be no such thing as Russian literature."
This story comes to my attention thanks to Beth Gylys:
from The Independent
Russian teacher 'kills friend in heated poetry versus prose argument'
Suspect stabbed his friend to death after victim insisted prose was superior as literary genre
The discussion on the merits of poetry over prose soon escalated into a lethal brawl GETTY IMAGES
A Russian teacher allegedly killed a friend in a drunken argument over literary genres, investigators have said.
The pair engaged in an animated discussion on the merits of poetry over prose during a drinking session, which soon escalated into a lethal brawl, after the suspect stabbed his friend insisting that poetry was superior.
In a statement, federal police in the Russian region of Sverdlovsk said: "The host insisted that real literature is prose, while his guest, a former teacher, argued for poetry.
"The literary dispute soon grew into a banal conflict, on the basis of which the 53-year-old admirer of poetry killed his opponent with the help of a knife."
The suspect fled his home in the town of Irbit in the Ural mountains, where the 67-year old victim was killed on 20 January, before he was found in a nearby village and arrested by Russian police on charges of murder.
The incident comes four months after a similar argument over the theories of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argued that reason is the source of morality, resulted in a man being shot in a grocery store in southern Russia.
This week we welcome Lynn Domina as our guest author. Lynn is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, (Four Way Books) and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms (Trinity University Press). She lives in Marquette, MI on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior and serves as Head of the English Department at Northern Michigan University. You can read more here: www.lynndomina.com.
In other news . . .
"Best American Poetry 2016" Launch Reading: Sept 22 at the New School in NYC 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. David Lehman, poetry coordinator for the Creative Writing Program and series editor, will moderate the event. He will be joined by contributors to the anthology as well as Edward Hirsch, guest editor of the 2016 volume.
The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011
You remember when Kirk Gibson hit perhaps the most unlikely home run in baseball history. Hobbled with injuries, he pinch-hit with two out and a man on first base, and the Dodgers were one out away from losing the first game of the 1988 World Series. Gibson could barely walk. But Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda fired him up and he was motivated further by Vin Scully, who, covering the game for national television, kept his eye on the dugout and reported on the dim possibility that Gibson would get into the game. Gibson stepped in against Dennis Eckersley, the Oakland A's ace reliever. Two strikes: the Dodgers were down to their final strike when with one swing Gibson reversed the team’s fortunes, The series pivoted on that seemingly miraculous moment but play by play men don't have any time to prepare. On the radio Jack Buck said “I don’t believe what I just saw.” Beautiful: a totally colloquial line of iambic tetrameter. Scully, describing the same at-bat, let a few seconds of silence pass before saying grandly, “In a year of the improbable, the impossible has just happened.”
I am going on memory and it is possible that I may have a word or two wrong there but the point of this piece has to do with memory -- I am typing an appreciation of play-by-play announcers and the memorable things they say. This is Vin Scully’s last go-round in his astounding sixty-six-year career as the voice of the Dodgers, and I dedicate these musings to him, the red-headed gentleman who invites viewers to "pull up a chair" and join him in Dodger Stadium. He did that at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn from 1950 to 1957, before the team abandoned the city in favor of Chavez Ravine. And in 1957, an eight-year-old boy got hooked on the Dodgers of that era (Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo) and the broadcast team of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett.
As we head toward Vin's final days in the broadcast booth, the accolades are coming his way. Everyone loves his call of Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965. Later that year, in October, when Koufax on two days’ rest shut out the Minnesota Twins to win the World Series for his team, Vinny said, “Sandy, two days ago you said you felt like a hundred years old. How do you feel now?” “Like a hundred and one,” Koufax replied. For weekly anecdotes from long-time listeners, read Houston Mitchell's "Dodger Dugout" columns (such as this one) and get on his e-mail list. From a recent e-mail: "With Clayton Kershaw returning this week, what better time to revisit Vin Scully's best calls from Kershaw's no-hitter? Watch and listen to it here."
Every so often Scully will sneak in a literary allusion, and he usually doesn’t repeat himself, though Milton’s “They also serve who only stand and wait” has served him well over the years. When a great pitcher (Zack Greinke) has a miserable night, Scully quotes Horace: "Even Homer nods." In the summer of 1993, when he broke the news of the untimely death of Don Drysdale, the great pitcher who had become his broadcast partner, Scully said, with simple eloquence, “Never have I been asked to make an announcement that hurts me as much as this one. And I say it to you as best I can with a broken heart.”
On Labor Day, I watched the Dodgers trounce the Diamondbacks, 10-2, for the pleasure of watching the action under the guidance of Scully. The TV execs are smart enough to show us a lot of Dodger games called by Scully this year. Unlike most announcers, he does the whole game unassisted, unaccompanied by what used to be called a color man -- usually an ex-star who is articulate, amiable, and knowledgeable (e.g. Don Sutton with the Braves, Rick Monday on the Dodgers' radio broadcasts, Bill White with the Yankees in the 1970s, the late Ralph Kiner with the Mets). To go solo is quite a feat. Even experienced play-by-play men consider it a challenge. But Vinny, who has had excellent partners over the years, doesn't need one.
One reason Vinny is the best is that he is unafraid of silence, unafraid to let the action and crowd reaction speak for itself for precious seconds. (I wish Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza took this hint.) A second attribute is a lesson the Fordham graduate learned from Red Barber, his mentor: never make it too apparent that you favor the home team. And be fair. Zack Greinke took a shellacking on Monday evening but Scully made sure the audience knew what an anomaly this was, Greinke being a terrific pitcher. Red Barber also advised Vin Scully to stick to facts and avoid opinions. Barber, a longtime Dodger announcer, joined Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto in the Yankee booth in 1957. I always liked Red’s way of describing a failed pickoff attempt. "Nothing doing.”
On Monday evening, Arizona's Socrates Brito stepped to the plate. Scully explained -- "for the kids, really" -- who Socrates was. Vinny had done his homework. We learned "what Labor Day is all about." It was in June 1894 that the first Monday in September was designated Labor Day. In 1916 the eight-hour working day became the norm and the obscenity of child labor was put to rest. Canada is said to have originated the idea of a holiday to celebrate the labor force. I didn't know these facts. But I did appreciate it when, after the history lesson, Vinny described Greinke at the plate. Greinke, not an easy out, obliged the pitcher to make a lot of pitches. "And after all that laboring," Scully said, "Greinke goes down for the second out." Possibly my favorite moment of the evening came when: a wicked curve ball -- can't remember whose -- caused the batter to fall down "for a mandatory eight-count," It was "a genuflection for a great breaking ball."
The Mets at the moment have an outstanding trio calling their games on television: Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling. The versatile Howie Rose and Josh Lewin handle the radio. Columbia graduate Cohen (a government major) is like a one-man encyclopedia of Mets’ history. Here is his description of one of the greatest catches in Mets’ history, the catch made by Endy Chavez in the National League Championship Series in 2006, which the Mets ultimately lost to St. Louis. “Edmonds at first and one out, and Pérez deals. Fastball hit in the air to left field, that's deep, back goes Chávez, back near the wall, leaping, and....he made the catch!! He took a home run away from Rolen! Trying to get back to first is Edmonds... he's doubled off! And the inning is over! Endy Chávez saves the day! He reached up high over the left field wall, right in front of the visitors bullpen, and pulled back a two-run homer! He went to the apex of his leap, and caught it in the webbing of his glove, with his elbow up above the fence. A miraculous play by Endy Chávez, and then Edmonds is doubled off first, and Oliver Perez escapes the 6th inning. The play of the year, the play maybe of the franchise history, for Endy Chávez. The inning is over.” This one I didn't know by heart except for "He went to the apex of his leap, and caught it in the webbing of his glove."
All announcers have their signature phrases. When the Mets’ win, Howie Rose says, “Put it in the books.” Bob Murphy would conclude every Mets’ victory by saying that he’d be back “with the happy recap” after the commercial break. Win or lose, Cohen says “and the ballgame is over,” strongly accenting the “o” in “over” when the good guys prevail. John Sterling, the Yankees' voice on the radio, stretches the phrase "the Yankees win!" -- and then repeats it -- with a kind of euphoria implying that God is in heaven and all is right with the world. Joe Nuxhall would sign off his Cincinnati Reds' broadcast by saying goodbye from the "old leftander, rounding third and heading for home." Nuxhall, who did Reds' games for forty years, was the youngest player ever to appear in a major league baseball game.
Cohen’s home run call is “it’s outta here!” The classic home run call is from Mel Allen when, with his straw hat and friendly smile, he covered the Yankees of Mantle, Maris, Berra, and Ford. Mickey would launch one, and Mel would follow the course of the ball and conclude “it’s going. . going. . .gone.” I cannot leave unmentioned Russ Hodges’ immortal call of Bobby Thomson’s home run off Ralph Branca in the 1951 National League playoffs between once and future opponents, Brooklyn and New York (and, after 1958, Los Angeles and San Francisco). “The Giants win the pennant!” he exclaimed and repeated the sentence four times
Sometimes the humor of play-by-play announcers is wonderful if unintentional. Michael Kay, the Yankees’ TV announcer, remarked that some pitcher had a zaftig ERA.” The color man, I forget who, a former player, looked blank. “What,” Kay said. “You don’t know zaftig?” The other guy said sheepishly that he may heard the word “in English class.” Phil Rizzuto unabashedly rooted for the Yankees, In the 1970s Bill White and Frank Messer were the straight men and Rizzuto provided ardor and comic relief during Yankee games. "Holy cow!" he would exclaim. And he wouldn't forget to say happy birthday to a friend in Boca Raton or Delray Beach.
I hate the phrase "If the season ended today. ." and all the hypotheticals that follow. But I admit to a soft spot for this common play-by-play sentence: "And the Mets are down to their final out." I used that phrase with a big grin when I told my wife about the tenth inning of the sixth game of the 1986 World Series between the Mets and the Boston Red Sox. Roger Angell headed his brilliant New Yorker piece on that unforgettable post-season with a palindrome: "Not So, Boston." In danger of wandering off message I think of the greatest cover phrase in the history of Sports Illustrated. It was when Pete Rose, after playing for Philadelphia and Montreal, returned to Cincinnati. "Rose is a Red." Gertrude Stein couldn't beat that.
A heartfelt apology: There are so many great play-by-play men whom I haven't named. . .but only because time is finite.
Lastly,the art of radio announcing is very different from calling a game on television. The radio announcer cannot afford to let the camera tell the story. It is his (or her) responsibility to make the game come to life in the listener's imagination. It is a craft bordering on an art. There is no better illustration of Marshall McLuhan's contention that radio is a "hot" medium while television is "cool." There is no better preparation for a TV play-by-play man than to have done the job on the radio -- as Gary Cohen did for many years before the Mets' management joined him with Darling and Hernandez, alumni of the '86 World Champs.
-- David Lehman
David Lehman, poetry coordinator for the Creative Writing Program and series editor, will moderate the event. He will be joined by contributors to the anthology as well as Edward Hirsch, guest editor of the 2016 volume.
With poets Christopher Bakken, Catherine Barnett, Jill Bialosky, Paula Bohince, Michelle Boisseau, Marianne Boruch, Lynn Emanuel, Martín Espada, Charles Fort, Emily Fragos, Juliana Gray, Linda Gregerson, Mark Halliday, Jeffrey Harrison, Cynthia Hogue, Garrett Hongo, Erin Hoover, Richard Howard, T. R. Hummer, Major Jackson, Lawrence Joseph, Julie Kane, John Koethe, Loretta Collins Klobah, Keetje Kuipers, Deborah Landau, Robin Coste Lewis, Paul Mariani,, Debra Marquart, Hai-Dan Phan, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Stanley Plumly, James Richardson, Patrick Rosal, Brenda Shaughnessy, Anya Silver, Taije Silverman,Tom Sleigh, A. E. Stallings,Susan Stewart, Nomi Stone, Adrienne Su, Lee Upton, Eleanor Wilner . . .
It will be historic.
Sponsored by the Creative Writing Program.
No self-respecting Dodger fan will want to overlook Michael Leahy's The Last Innocents:The Collision of the Turbulent Sixties and the Los Angeles Dodgers (HarperCollins).Independent of the Dodger fan base, students of baseball history will find much to enlighten them here about such subjects as the glory days of Sandy Koufax, the ailments (physical and mental) that plague big-time ballplayers, and the relations of management versus labor when Walter O'Malley owned the Dodgers.
There are terrific anecdotes based on interviews the author conducted with Sandy Koufax ("simply the best," as the Yankees advance scout noted in 1963), Maury Wills (who stole 104 bases in 1962), Wes Parker (maybe the slickest fielding first-baseman ever), Lou Johnson (hitting hero of the 1965 World Series), second-baseman Dick Tracewski, catcher Jeff Torberg, the underrated Ron Fairly,and others.The only thing I am not crazy about is the book's title, and the author may not have liked it either. The book is at its weakest when trying to correlate the fortunes of the Dodgers as a team and as a group of individuals with the "turbulent" decade of war, riots, assassinations, uprisings and political movements.
The most compelling pages are on Koufax, a ferocious competitor who was the key to the Dodgers' two World Championships and three National League pennants in the four-year stretch from 1963 through 1966. A hero to the Jewish community for his principled refusal to pitch the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur, Koufax is enigmatic to the extent that his modesty, shyness, and reticence seem to indicate hidden depths of complexity. Like the "no trespassing" sign that begins and ends Citizen Kane, Koufax's avoidance of publicity is an invitation to let speculation and multiple points of view determine our sense of the man.
The other Dodgers interviewed for the book speak of Sandy with respect bordering on reverence. I didn't know that there was an anti-Semitic strain in some newspaper articles in the mid-60s. "Some skeptics suggested [that] perhaps Koufax was less a ballplayer than a budding businessman and bon vivant." Moreover, "some stories cast him as a closet intellectual, always grounds for suspicion in professional stories." The stories may have been planted by management hoping to improve their bargaining position or their public image. Koufax was underpaid not only in comparison to today's players but by any criterion of the time. And as Leahy says, "there can be no reasonable doubt" that anti-Semitism lay behind the stereotypes provoked by "newspaper references to Koufax's supposed business shrewdness and inferences that Koufax might be less committed to the Dodgers than to getting more money."
By staging a joint holdout in 1966, Koufax and Don Drysdale got the raises they deserved -- and helped pave the way for the free-agency revolution that Marvin Miller was about to engineer. It was never a secret that Koufax pitched despite intense pain from arthritis; that he had to prepare elaborately for each game, and that he quit baseball at the height of his fame, age 30, because he was told that if he continued to pitch, he may ultimately lose the arm. He is the primary hero of this book, and we see him only through others' eyes, because he agreed to speak with Leahy only about his old friend Maury Wills.
Wills suffered from old-fashioned racism. Fierce in his play on the field, someone whose commitment to winning was absolute (in the manner of Chase Utley or Hunter Pence), he felt manipulated by Dodger management, and disrespected. Part of the problem was Vero Beach, Florida, where the Dodgers held their spring training for many years.The town's hostility to blacks was palpable. But management treated the star shortstop with contempt during contract negotiations. Remembering Dodger games in which the only offense was provided by Wills (who would beat out a bunt, steal second, steal third, and come home on a fly ball), I agree with those who contend that he belongs in baseball's Hall of Fame. Wills revolutionized baseball. He brought back the stolen base as a weapon. His career prefigured those of Lou Brock, Ricky Henderson, and Davey Lopes.
One thing I did not know about Wills is that he apparently dated Doris Day.
There must be a technical term for the degree of insecurity that plagued Wes Parker. Lou Johnson's story is that of the veteran minor-leaguer who is about to hang up his spikes when he gets one last chance and makes the most of it.Johnson hit the decisive home run when Koufax shut out the Minnesota Twins in game seven of the 1965 World Series. The game was played in Minnesota. "You could hear a cat pissin' on cotton after I hit it," Johnson recalls. As for Parker, the affable Tim McCarver says that Parker made "the best play I ever saw made by a first baseman in a game I was ever in."
Michael Leahy's affection for the team is evident and understandable. He was a teenage kid at Dodger Stadium when Koufax pitched his perfect game in 1965. That game was, Leahy says, "the apotheosis of Koufax" and it must have felt magical to be in the stadium. As Leahy suggests, Koufax stood in relation to the Dodgers of the 1960s as Joe DiMaggio stood in relation to the Yankees twenty years earlier.
Among the many other things I learned from "The Last Innocents," I'll leave you with a few. One is that Buzzie Bavasi, the Dodgers' general manager, was not entirely the jovial guy I had imagined. He was a tough negotiator and employed a variety of tricks to fool a player into signing a lowball contract. In 1964 Ron Fairly came in for his contract meeting. Bavasi said he had good news. Tommy Davis had just signed. The contract is on the desk. Then Bavasi invented an excuse to leave the room. Fairly took a look at the contract on the desk -- a bogus document -- gulped and lowered his financial expectations accordingly. (The GM bragged about the tactic to newspapermen.) Buzzie did have a jovial side, and some players speak of him with warmth. But first of all he was O'Malley's henchman at a time when ownership routinely exploited the players. It is a business now. It was a business then.
With rosters changing as rapidly as they do, and with management and labor so often at odds, one has to wonder about fan loyalty to teams. In Philosophy 101 the professor asks you whether it's still the same hammer if you replace the handle. Is it still the same hammer if you replace not only the handle but the metal head? It is the same with a team. The Dodgers of 2015 are completely different from the Dodgers of 1956 -- different owners, a different city, different personnel, Yet the fans are unwavering. They are the only constant. And one is a little nostalgic for the time when certain players -- DiMaggo and Mante with the Yankees, Koufax with the Dodgers, Ted Williams with the Red Sox, Stan Musial with the Cardinals -- played their whole career with just one team. And yes, I am still furious with the Mets for trading Tom Seaver to the Reds for what Ira Gershwin would call "plenty of nuthin," and nearly forty years gone by since that ugly day. Seaver should have worn no other uniform than that of the Mets.
With just three exceptions (Koufax, Drysdale, and rookie pitcher Don Sutton, who was nursing a sore arm), O'Malley insisted that all Dodger players go to Japan for a few weeks of games with Japanese teams following the 1966 season. The players were exhausted and many did not want to go. They had played 162 regular season games plus four in the post-season. Leahy's dry comment: O'Malley "found it hard to imagine why anyone would wish to pass on a chance to see Japan, especially when he was paying each player $4,000 in addition to their travel expenses." Players who rebelled, as Wills did, got traded. So much for management's loyalty to the players who defined the team.
When manager Walt Alston was asked who would pitch the seventh game of the 1965 World Series, Drysdale, whose regular turn it was, or Koufax on two-days' rest, Alston said, "the lefthander." Make of that what you will.
I was also glad to acquire the answer to the question "who moved Burright?" This refers to the calamitous ninth inning of the third playoff game between the Dodgers and Giants in 1962. Had Larry Burright, the team's rookie second baseman, stood at his usual place, the team may have made a double play that would stop the Giants' rally. According to Leahy, it was Leo Durocher, then the team's third base coach, who gave the disastrous signal that moved Burright out of position. But, then, Leahy does't really approve of Leo the Lip ("Nice Guys Finish Last"). In any case it's hypothetical. The Giants won the game and took the Yankees to the ninth inning of game seven of that year's World Series before expiring while Tony Bennett sang the hit of that fall, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."
If Koufax fascinates you, if you're curious about the game in which Giants' pitcher Juan Marichal used a bat to clobber Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro's head, or if you just want to relive the crucial contests of 1963 and 1965, this is the place to go.
-- David Lehman
From the "Next Line, Please" corner of The American Scholar. A weekly challenge in verse.
The prompt for this week—to rewrite two to six lines of Milton’s “Lycidas”—turned out to be one of the most stimulating we’ve had in a long time. What wonderful submissions we’ve received. “Put it in the books,” as Mets’ radio announcer Howie Rose says after a New York victory. This is one for the books. John Milton, author of "Lycidas," the greatest elegy in the language, is pictured at the left. He was a handsome young man as a student of Christ's College, Cambridge.
I am happy to reveal that from now until the onset of winter, each week’s winner will receive a complimentary copy of The Best American Poetry 2016, edited by Edward Hirsch.
First place this week is divided between two different entries:
So what’s the point in striving every week
To pen some verses fit for “Next Line, Please”
While straining every sinew of the mind?
Why not seek pastimes of more common kind,
Abandon art, with YouTube take some ease,
Watch shady porn or kittens tangling skeins?
Which is, as she says, “(De)based on”
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd’s trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra’s hair?
This happens to be my own favorite quotation from “Lycidas,” and the very passage that I undertook to translate into a modern idiom (see below). I admire Millicent’s balance of contemporary reference (YouTube, “shady porn”) with the noble accents of the master (“While straining every sinew of the mind”). Nicely done.
Co-winner is Berwyn Moore’s
So spirals the seeds of the sunflower,
its buttery lattice a mathematical marvel.
Though Helianthos fades at summer’s end,
in time our friend will bow his studded head again.
After lines 168-171 of Milton’s poem:
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
Berwyn says her entry was “inspired by the Fibonacci sequence.” I like and use the Fiboinacci formula but don’t quite see how it applies here. This looks more like an “n + 7” exercise formulated by OuLiPo, the French association of writers and mathematicians devoted to creating new strict literary forms. (I hope Berwyn will elaborate on her method here.) In any case, there is something lovely in the alliteration of Berwyn’s first line, and the poignancy of “Though Helianthos fades at summer’s end” reminds me of my favorite line in Shakespeare’s sonnet # 18, “And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
First runner up is Paul Michelsen’s eloquent
Another Perfect Day
The sweetest friends make the most bitter ends
Not the first or last perfect day death ruined
Not too young, but too young for our liking
Our preferences no match with those of wild nature.
Once we sang together, now I sing alone,
but tomorrow’s silence here will lead to somewhere
else a chorus.
Inspired by the following lines:
Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear
Compels me to disturb your season due;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
Here is my own effort to capture the pith and meaning of the lines both Millicent Caliban and I chose:
Why study poetry, major in English, climb the stair—
Way to failure as you struggle with an obsolete art,
And woo a fickle muse, forsaking wealth and fame?
Wouldn’t it make better sense to enter the frame
Of the picture, kiss the girl and capture her heart
And glory in every last curl and wave of her hair?
For more, click here.
Slice onion into large strips
Add two cloves of garlic, minced
Saute in olive oil
Add cup of Bellwether Liberty Spy cider
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Shake the pan (a deep pot, optimally)
Put in two pounds of mussels
Check after five minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve on boiled potatoes.
Drink remainder of the bottle of cider.
Happy birthday, Stacey!
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
– William Butler Yeats
Note to SDH: Will you marry me? -- DL
At 3:15 in the morning, in London, England, on August 13 of the nineteenth century, the great film director Alfred Hitchcock was born, a solid Leo with a macabre imagination (moon in Scorpio). When August 13 falls on a Friday, as it did in 1993 and 1999, you may expect bats to fly in through the slightest opening in the bathroom window, and the phone will ring at 11 PM and it will be someone you have never met, a waitress who writes poetry and is calling from Oregon to ask you for a job. She sounds drunk and promises to make it worth your while. But when you explain nicely that it is very late and not the right time, etc, she says fuck you and hangs up. Then you grab a broom, turn off the lights, and chase the bats out the door. Hitchcock was short (5'5) and stout and perhaps unaware that he shared his birthday with both Annie Oakley and Fidel Castro.
There is a tremendous amount of fire in his natal chart (see below): more than 50%. This accounts for his energy, drive, ambition. The water in his chart, topping 18%, indicates a man of subtlety and sensitivity. He has three times as much yang as yin in his personality, and no one should be surprised to learn that a man whose dominant planets are the sun, Venus, and Mars may luxuriate in bathtubs in the English manner and have an almost phobic distrust of showers, which comes through in such movies as "Lifeboat" (in which Tallulah Bankhead and company survive on a raft in the North Atlantic in World War II), "Vertigo" (in which Kim Novak does not drown in the Pacific Ocean) and "Psycho" (in which Janet Leigh meets her shocking fate behind a torn shower curtain). Leo, Sagittarius, and Scorpio are the predominant signs of a man whose self-confidence can lead him to commit the sin of pride. I hear that Janet Leigh greatly prefers baths to showers and has ever since working with Hitch.
A picture of the master of suspense emerges from a study of Hitchcock's chart. He is a Roman Catholic; a lover of blondes (especially American blondes); and a prankster of the imagination who knows that a straight face is best for effects either comic or scary and that the best way to get an actor and an actress to understand their parts as quarreling lovers is to handcuff them together and lock them in a room overnight, as in the filming of "The 39 Steps." When he was a boy, Hitchcock's dad sent him to the local police constabulary with a note instructing the officer on duty to lock the boy in jail for a few hours. This experience had the desired effect on the lad, who worked out his guilt complex by dispatching heroes, heroines, and villains to their deaths from the top of a church tower, or from a moving train, or in a wood stove, or by an attack of killer birds, or from the top of the Statue of Liberty, or in an out-of-control merry-go-around at an amusement park, or by a nasty piece of goods who uses his necktie as a strangling device, or sometimes with a gun, a knife, or a pair of handy scissors. The leonine Hitchock had his sun and his Venus in Leo. This makes him a most logical man, a constant man, generous in his affections but domineering, and almost tyrannically loyal to his lovers and friends.
Given his stellar combination of assertive confidence and deep-seated guilt, it comes as no surprise to students of the great man's chart that (1) the great Hitchcock actors (male) tend to be old-fashioned types (James Stewart, Cary Grant) rather than the method-trained new breed; (2) in some (not all) of the best Hitchcock movies, the villain is either more interesting than the hero (Robert Walker versus Farley Granger in "Strangers on a Train") or at least complicated in an attractive way (e.g., Joseph Cotten in "Shadow of a Doubt," James Mason in "North by Northwest," Ray Milland in "Dial M for Murder," the birds in "The Birds"); and (3) the perfect Hitchcock heroines are Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, Doris Day, Janet Leigh, and Teresa Wright. Hitch shows us the craziness inside every man and his (almost invariably blonde) fantasy lady.
A tip of the old fedora to Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music of Hitchcock's mind-- DL
Note: Readers of "astrological profiles" know that the use of astrological terms is laid on pretty thick but with tongue in cheek, firmly so, on the nervy assumption that the horoscope -- like the "haruspicate or scry," "sortilege, or tea leaves," playing cards, pentagrams, handwriting analysis, palm-reading, and the "preconscious terrors" of the dreaming mind in T. S. Eliot's "The Dry Salvages" -- may be a bust at prediction bur may turn out to be not only "usual pastimes and drugs" but the means of poetic exploration.
The multiple-choice form seems to suit a moviemaker as complex as Hitchcock, whose birthday is coming up next week.:
(1) Which of the following did not play the male lead in a Hitchcock movie?
a) Sean Connery in Marnie
b) Cary Grant in Notorious
c) Orson Welles in A Touch of Evil
d) Laurence Olivier in Rebecca
e) Robert Cummings in Saboteur
Answer: c), Orson Welles, who directed and who dominates the screen in A Touch of Evil. Note the difference between Welles and the other four on the list. Each of the others is a non-method or pre-method actor; three are from Britain. Unlike Welles in his portrayal of evil as ugliness, at least three of the Hitchcock heroes named may be said to have an everyman quality in spite of the fact that three are very handsome, while the fourth has boyish good looks, and the same three may be said to be suave. Hitchcock can project versions of himself as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Rod Taylor, the young Gregory Peck, even Olivier as a toff. But it doesn't work with Monty Clift in I, Confess.and it wouldn't work with Welles or Brando.
(2) The title North by Northwest is a reference to
a) The Tempest and magic
b) Hamlet and madness
c) A popular route flown by Pan American Airlines in 1959
with change of planes at O'Hare and Mt Rushmore the final destination
d) Emily Dickinson's poem "After great pain a formal feeling comes"
e) Cary Grant's use of a road map as a disguise in the dining car
Answer: b) Hamlet and madness. Hamlet says he is mad only "north by northwest," reinforcing the doubt that he is truly mad rather than calculatingly capable of an "antic disposition." The plot of Hitchcock's movie is mad, fantastic in the old-fashioned sense. Yet there is method in the apparent madness -- and there is as much comedy in this thriller as that category can hold. The title also encapsulates the movie's locations and its motion. This is a movie of movement: in taxicab, motor cars, train, plane, bus. Cary Grant's journey begins in New York City -- Madison Avenue, the Plaza Hotel, and the United Nations. Then the film takes a trip to the Midwest with its unending fields of corn and finally culminates on the top of Mouth Rushmore, which is north by northwest from New York City. Finally, there is a sense of playacting in the movie and the sort of temporary insanity that accompanies excursions into the absurd. From the moment Cary Grant, advertising executive, is kidnapped at the Plaza Hotel, each scene is more implausible than the scene preceding it. A prodigious amount of liquor is consumed by our hero, who reveals himself to be quite a resourceful, witty, charming, romantic, fast-on-his-feet character as the movie goes along -- whereas, at the start, he is merely adept at stealing a cab, playing the field, and reporting to mother.
(3) Identify Ambrose Chapel.
a) Albert Hall's younger brother
b) The kidnapper in The Man Who Knew Too Much
c) A London church
d) The MacGuffin
e) Montgomery Clift's parish in I Confess
Answer: c) a London church in The Man Who Knew too Much, but metaphorically it is also a) an anticipation of the Albert Hall, scene of the climax of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Like Albert Hall, Ambrose Chapel is a name that can also be taken to refer to a person, the way James Stewart and Doris Day approach it at first. While b) is incorrect, it is relevant. Only e) is just plain wrong.
a) A childhood crush on Marlene Dietrich
b) Unresolved Oedipal issues
c) See (d)
d) Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Doris Day, Joan Fontaine, Lorraine Day, Priscilla Lane, and Tippi Hedren
e) The idea, which occurred to him with the force of an epiphany, that blond-versus-brunette mirrored the American power structure
f) The belief that in movies an actor's looks are more important than his or her talent.
Answer: d) the actresses named. It must however be admitted that b) and f) are decided possibilities. As for both a) and e), each is random speculation. The birds' savage attack on Tippi Hedren is probably the worst ordeal any Hitchcock blonde endures, though the company is stiff. Kim Novak dies twice in Vertigo. Ingrid Bergman is poisoned to the brink of death in Notorious. And of course there's Janet Leigh's lifelong fear of showers, which originated with the one she takes as Marion Crane in Bates's Motel after she has decided to to return the money, concealed in a newspaper, to the bank from which she absconded with it
(5) Which of these did Hitchcock invest with uncanny significance, and what does that tell you?
a) A glass of milk
b) A shattered pair of eyeglasses
c) A giant Sequoia Redwood
d) The key to the wine cellar
e) A burning mansion
Answer: Some would argue for symbolism. The shattered eyeglasses at the amusement park signify the death of the girl in Strangers on a Train. The key leads to the wine-cellar and its secrets in Notorious. You might say that the glass of milk in Suspicion, like the coffee cup and saucer in Notorious, accentuates the innocence that is menaced. The homely domestic objects contain lethal doses of poison; the threat of murder can be disguised in the least threatening of objects.
(6) Which of the following is not an authentic Hitchcock moment?
a) Grace Kelly cozies up with Harper's Bazaar while her beau, nursing a broken leg, takes a nap
b) Raymond Burr signs a contract to play first base for the New York Yankees after the death of Gary Cooper
c) Ingrid Bergman offers her beau "a leg or a breast" as they stand on the terrace on a tropical evening
d) With one exception, everyone watching a tennis match moves his or her head as the movement of the ball dictates
e) Doris Day belts out Che Sera, Sera at a posh party peopled by diplomats in London
Answer: (b). Gary Cooper played Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees. Raymond Burr had nothing to do with it. In movies he played a minor character, usually a heavy, until he emerged as television's "Perry Mason." God bless his agent. Hitchcock would not have been interested in Lou Gehrig or any element of his story, which lacks a violent death, grounds for suspicion, murderous motives. There are foul balls but no foul play. On the other hand, each of the others is perfect: a) Rear Window, c) Notorious, d) Strangers on a Train, and e) The Man Who Knew Too Much, which is underrated, perhaps a natural consequence of having been made in a period of masterpieces on the order of Vertigo, Rear Window, and North by Northwest.
(7) In Vertigo
a) Who is real, Judy or Madeline?
b) Who is real, Johnny or Scotty?
c) True or false: The age difference between James Stewart and Kim Novak helps explain the nature of their relationship, which is passionate but not exactly sexual -- it is more like an event in the man's psyche, which he is destined to repeat.
d) What does Bernard Herrmann's music contribute?
e) Why does the detective reject fashion designer Barbara Bel Geddes?
f) Why are they both named Charlie, Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt, and can you make the case that this, even more than Saboteur, is Hitchcock's most patriotically American movie?
Answer: You're on your own here. Go to town..
8) In the auction scene in North by Northwest, Cary Grant violates the hushed-room decorum by making wacky and contradictory bids in order to
a) attract attention because he is a certified narcissist who thinks he is Cary Grant
b) attract attention and get ejected because the cops were preferable to the kidnappers awaiting his exit
c) fulfill his part of the bargain with Ingrid Bergman, who has done her part by going to Brazil and enduring a near-lethal dose of poison administered slowly so it looks like sickness and not murder
d) warn about an imminent terrorist threat in a way that wouldn't panic the public because only one man present would understand the message
e) arouse the admiration of co-star Eva Maria Saint, who has aired her doubts about his skill as a comic actor
Answer: b) is correct. a) and e) are amusing fictions. d) is Borgesian. c) refers to the plot of a different movie, Notorious.
(9) Which of the following does not qualify as a typical Hitchcock prank?
a) to cuff his hero and heroine during rehearsals, clear the room, and lock the door
b) to pose as the fat man in a weight-reducing ad that is espied if not read on a lifeboat full of the survivors of a shipwreck
c) to employ Otto Preminger to play the commandant of a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp
d) to suggest the act of fornication by showing a speeding train enter a tunnel
e) to kill Kim Novak twice, in both cases at the top of the church tower at Mission San Juan Batista in California
Answer: (c) Refers to Billy Wilder's movie Stalag 17. The rest are pure Hitchcock.
(10) To appreciate Hitchcock's movies,
a) you need to see them
b) you need to take into account that he was raised Catholic
c) you have to consider that he was born British but was American by choice
d) you have to acknowledge that the McGuffin is to plot as psyche is to drama and the dream
e) you have to concede that a joke does not need to be funny to make us laugh
f) you must remind yourself that you, the viewer, are both the male and the female leads in the film
Answer: a) for sure, but a strong case can be made for each of the others.
Note: The multiple choice form, with which we are all familiar, is little used for the purposes of exposition. This is part of a little experiment. -- DL
Episode of Hands
The unexpected interest made him flush.
Suddenly he seemed to forget the pain,--
Consented, -- and held out
One finger from the others.
The gash was bleeding, and a shaft of sun
That glittered in and out among the wheels,
Fell lightly, warmly, down into the wound.
And as the fingers of the factory owner's son,
That knew a grip for books and tennis
As well as one for iron and leather,--
As his taut, spare fingers wound the gauze
Around the thick bed of the wound,
His own hands seemed to him
Like wings of butterflies
Flickering in sunlight over summer fields.
The knots and notches,-- many in the wide
Deep hand that lay in his,-- seemed beautiful.
They were like the marks of wild ponies' play, --
Bunches of new green breaking a hard turf.
And factory sounds and factory thoughts
Were banished from him by that larger, quiet hand
That lay in his with the sun upon it.
And as the bandage knot was tightened
The two men smiled into each other's eyes.
-- from The Best American Erotib Poems
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.