David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Audiences, Baseball, Books


• When he was a young man acting in England, Jerome K. Jerome traveled with a troupe that had only one backdrop for representing a cottage interior. In one particular play, it had to be used to represent the interiors of four different cottages — the actors simply altered the on-stage furniture while using the same backdrop. Unfortunately, some audience members weren’t amused by the play, so they decided to amuse themselves with the backdrop. Whenever a couple of scenes had passed without the use of the backdrop, audience members called out to ask about its welfare and whether it had been lost, and whenever the backdrop made a belated appearance, the audience cheered and shouted, “Who said it was lost?”

• John Gielgud and Mrs. Patrick Campbell once played to nearly empty houses in Ibsen’s Ghosts, and so Mrs. Campbell occasionally remarked to Mr. Gielgud on stage, “The Marquis and Marchioness of Empty are in front again.”


• In 1905, one of baseball’s greatest fans attended a Detroit game. In the 11th inning of a closely contested game, the umpire, Jack Sheridan, was given a message to announce to the spectators: “Is S.D. Reed in the stands? He is wanted at home. His house is on fire.” Mr. Reed was in the stands, but he replied, “I’m not leaving. I couldn’t get home in time to do anything about the fire anyway, so let the damn house burn.”

• One of the best baseball batters of all time is Stan Musial. Joe Garagiola once caught for a young pitcher who was facing Mr. Musial. Mr. Garagiola kept giving signs for pitches, but the pitcher kept shaking them off. Finally, Mr. Garagiola went to the pitcher’s mound and asked the young pitcher what he wanted to throw against Mr. Musial. “Nothing,” the pitcher replied. “I want to hold the ball as long as possible.”

• Baseball manager Dick Williams was not popular. He was thrown out of a game one night, and he was so mad at the beginning of the next game that he wouldn’t come out of the dugout to give the umpires his starting lineup. Instead, he sent out a pitcher, Bryn Smith, to do it. Mr. Smith greeted the umpires by saying, “Any chance of throwing him out again?”


• James Abbott McNeill Whistler did not write the title of his book, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. At first, Mr. Whistler had intended to have a man named Sheridan Ford research his letters to editors and get credit for publishing them, but then he decided to have them published himself. Mr. Ford then proceeded to try to publish a pirated text of Mr. Whistler’s correspondence with the media. A printer in Antwerp, Belgium, disliked Mr. Ford’s original title, The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, and choose to use as a title six words from Mr. Ford’s introduction to the book. Mr. Whistler found out about the pirated edition of the book and suppressed it, but he helped himself to Mr. Ford’s title.

• Isaac Asimov wrote his autobiography for Doubleday, but after writing 50 pages, he discovered that he had gotten only as far as his first three years of life, meaning that his autobiography would be huge. His friend and fellow science-fiction writer Ben Bova visited him and saw the many pages of typed manuscript that Mr. Asimov was pouring out. Mr. Asimov explained, “In this autobiography, I’m including every stupid thing I can remember having said or done.” Mr. Bova joked, “No wonder it’s so long.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Be a Work of Art — Buy

Be a Work of Art — Buy the Paperback

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Be a Work of Art — Buy Smashwords: Many formats, including PDF

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