Upsmanship

Upsmanship     Everyone has heard of ‘gamesmanship.’  So too, ‘oneupsmanship.’  Fewer people, unfortunately, know the creator of these terms, or the books that made them famous.   The author was Stephen Potter.  Potter was born in 1900 and died too young (as everyone, aside from a few well-known politicians, seems to do) at the age of 69.  Obviously, he was a mere youth cut off in the prime of life.  A graduate of Westminster School and Merton College, Oxford, he studied English and graduated with honors.   He taught English literature at the University of London and then...

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A Primer on Pronouns

A Primer on Pronouns     After their careers are over, many athletes move to the television or radio studio.  There, they apply their often eccentric version of the English language to the job of explaining an off-tackle dive play or a dunk – as if these things are complicated.   Well, no one expects ex-jocks to have a perfect grasp of their native language.  After all, they spent more time pumping iron than diagramming sentences.  In fact, I doubt if they spent any time diagramming sentences.   But what of their sidekicks – non-jocks who majored in ‘communications’ with...

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Orwell Redux

Orwell Redux   I read somewhere that sales of George Orwell’s 1984 have risen lately – perhaps in response to the federal government’s snooping into the cyber world of American citizens.  It’s not at all hard to imagine a tool like the internet being used in a sinister fashion.  Orwell’s Big Brother would have killed for internet capability.   Regardless of the reason for the Orwell revival, he deserves it.  A lifelong socialist, he was also fearlessly immune to any party line—especially after his service in the Spanish Civil War where he saw the Stalinists’ utterly ruthless...

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Hemingway and Woody Allen

Hemingway & Woody Allen: An Odd Couple   The other night I watched “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s movie about a time traveler who returns to Paris in the Twenties and runs into all the big name ex-pat artists.   It’s a nice idea and one that most any writer wishes were possible, for that period with Hemingway and Fitzgerald and all the rest was a time of great romance – at least from the vantage point of the 21st century.  True, sanitation was poor and money was tight, for all except Scott and Zelda, but everyone was young and enthusiastic about the arts, and many from that...

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Good Stuff

                                                        The Good Stuff   Every once in a while friends will ask me what I’m reading — or ask me what I like that they might also like.  It happens enough that, when I thought about doing a blog, the idea of writing about some of my favorite authors seemed to make sense.    There will be no carping in this space.  I don’t intend to review or recommend books or authors I don’t care for.  But there are lots of authors I do care for, and some of them are not as well known as they should be, if the world were...

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