Friday, March 1, 2024

TV Quote of the Day (‘Seinfeld,’ As A Hat and Newman Come Between George and Romance)

[An attractive passerby named Sheila stops and asks]:

Sheila [played by Shannon Cochran]: “What's going on here?”

George Costanza [played by Jason Alexander]: “Oh, this guy tried to sneak into my space.”

Sheila: “I really hate people who do that. I hope you don't let him get away with it.”

George: “Well, thank you for your support.”

Sheila: “Hey, that's a great hat.”

George: “Really? You like it? I got it at a flea market today.”

Newman [played by Wayne Knight]: “Hey, George, nice hat.”

George: “Yeah, thanks.”

Newman: “Can I try it on?”

George: “No! It, uh, it wouldn't fit you.”

Newman: “Well, sure it would.”

George: “No! Get out of here, Newman.”

Newman: “Come on, let me try it on.”’

George: “No, Newman, stop it.”

Sheila: “Let him try it on.”

George: “I don't want him to!”

Sheila: “What is wrong with you?” [She begins to walk away.]

George: “You wanna see?!” (pulling off the hat to reveal the bald pate) “There! There it is!” (turning to Newman) “Alright, here! You wanna try on the hat?! Here! Try on the hat!” Seinfeld, Season 3, Episode 22, “The Parking Space,” original air date Apr. 22, 1992, teleplay by Larry David and Greg Daniels, directed by Tom Cherones

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Quote of the Day (Wallace Stegner, Defining ‘Home’)

“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” —Pulitzer Prize-winning American fiction writer, historian, and essayist Wallace Stegner (1909-1993), Angle of Repose (1971)

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Photo of the Day: End-of-Winter Dreams, Bryant Park, NYC

Late yesterday morning, I was passing Bryant Park when I took the accompanying picture. I was surprised that so many people came out for this ultimate winter scene—we’re still only two-thirds through the season, but it has been so mild (the 3.2 inches of snow that fell in Central Park on Feb. 13 were the most since 2022) that it feels like spring will come early this year.

The organizers of the park’s “Winter Village,” organized by Bank of America, seem to be acknowledging this: Activity on this 17,000- sq. ft. rink will cease after March 3.

With ongoing climate change, the moments when children and their parents can enjoy skating and just hanging out are passing, like the sweet dreams of youth and innocence, always too evanescent.

Quote of the Day (Theodore Roosevelt, on a Republic’s ‘Wide Differences of Opinion’)

“In a republic, to be successful we must learn to combine intensity of conviction with a broad tolerance of difference of conviction. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth. Bitter internecine hatreds, based on such differences, are signs, not of earnestness of belief, but of that fanaticism which, whether religious or anti-religious, democratic or anti-democratic, is itself but a manifestation of the gloomy bigotry which has been the chief factor in the downfall of so many, many nations.”— U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), “Citizenship in a Republic” speech delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, Apr. 23, 1910, reprinted in The Man in the Arena: Speeches andEssays by Theodore Roosevelt, edited by John Allen Gable (1990)

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Quote of the Day (James Baldwin, on Trusting Life)

“Trust life, and it will teach you, in joy and sorrow, all you need to know.”—African-American novelist-essayist James Baldwin (1924-1987), “White Man’s Guilt,” Ebony, August 1965, reprinted in The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction, 1948-1985 (1985)

Monday, February 26, 2024

Movie Quote of the Day (‘All About Eve,’ As a Theater Critic Introduces Himself and His World)

Addison DeWitt [played by George Sanders] [voiceover intro]: “To those of you who do not read, attend the theater, listen to unsponsored radio programs, or know anything of the world in which you live, it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it, I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theater.” —All About Eve (1950), screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz based on the story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

At this point in the Academy Award-winning All About Eve, Addison DeWitt is merely droll, in a way that Oscar Wilde or Noel Coward might approve.

But look at the picture accompanying this post. This is an observer who not only takes it all in, but is utterly unillusioned by it all.

Cynical and manipulative, he is also one of two outsiders who perfectly understands the vanity fair of swollen egos, insecurities, and deceptiveness in which the actors, playwright, director, and other assorted figures in this comedy-drama move.

The other outsider is Birdie Coonan, a former vaudeville actress, now the personal assistant and confidant of reigning theater queen Margo Channing. Like DeWitt’s, her sideline view of events allows her to see early on through the movie’s title schemer, Eve Harrington.

Addison and Birdie differ vastly in class and education, but neither is anybody’s fool. “You're an improbable person, Eve, and so am I,” Addison says in confronting Eve, a true Becky Sharp of Broadway. “We have that in common. Also, our contempt for humanity and inability to love, and be loved, insatiable ambition, and talent. We deserve each other.” 

Birdie, less self-interested than the critic, is equally perceptive of motive, telling Margo that Eve is studying her, “like you was a play, or a book, or a set of blueprints. How you walk, talk, eat, think.”

For his performance as DeWitt, George Sanders won an Oscar. For hers as Birdie, Thelma Ritter—one of Hollywood’s consistently superior character actors—received her first of six Oscar nominations.

Not one of these netted her the coveted statuette, leading the actress to a most Birdie-like wisecrack: “Now I know what it feels like to be the bridesmaid and never the bride.” 

Quote of the Day (Herbert Kohl, on 'Knowing and Caring About’ Students)

“Knowing and caring about your students is not merely an academic matter but is essential to shaping learning for them and a challenge to take them into your life and fight for survival and growth as if they were your own children...I believe that one key to making sustained changes is finding teachers who care about their students and are willing to become personally involved with their lives. The craft of teaching can develop; the love it requires cannot be legislated or trained.”— American progressive educator, author, and social activist Herbert Kohl, The Discipline of Hope: Learning from a Lifetime of Teaching (1988)

The image accompanying this post shows James Franciscus as the title character of the vintage series Mr. Novak—the type of passionate educator that Herbert Kohl has in mind in this quote.

This drama series began in the fall of 1963, and high school English teacher John Novak is just the kind of young idealist who would have been summoned to service by John F. Kennedy. The show’s brief run—only two seasons—hurt its chances for syndication.

Too bad. Even with network censors who scrutinized every syllable of its dialogue, the series managed to take a realistic look at topics such as cheating on exams, dropouts, substance abuse, racial and religious prejudice, and political extremism.

I suspect that more than a few viewers were inspired to enter the profession by watching Mr. Novak and principals Albert Vane and Martin Woodridge battle to bring their students through all these troubles. What incentives would those eyeing the profession possess today when it has become such a political football?