Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Thank you for the dream



One rainy Sunday afternoon in 1989, with encouragement and much-needed help from her father, a 7-year-old girl named Amy decided to send something to Roald Dahl. Taking inspiration from her favourite book, The BFG, and using a combination of oil, coloured water and glitter, Amy sent the author a very fitting and undeniably adorable gift: one of her dreams, contained in a bottle.

Thankfully, the sentiment wasn't lost on Roald Dahl. His lovely response can be seen below.

Transcript follows.

(Letter kindly supplied by its recipient, Amy; Image: Roald Dahl in 1951, via.)



Transcript
GIPSY HOUSE
GREAT MISSENDEN
BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
HP16 0BP

10th February 1989

Dear Amy,

I must write a special letter and thank you for the dream in the bottle. You are the first person in the world who has sent me one of these and it intrigued me very much. I also liked the dream. Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.

With love from,

(Signed)

Roald Dahl

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Make me proud

Below is further proof of Quentin Tarantino's admirably enthusiastic attitude when replying to fan mail, in the form of a brief but energetic handwritten note to a 14-year-old aspiring filmmaker named Richard in 1998 (for another perfect example, see this letter from 1996). This particular response was prompted by a letter from the young fan in which he asked a technical question relating to screenwriting: Whether or not Tarantino wrote "CONTINUED" at the top/bottom of each page of script.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Richard Finlay, via The Quentin Tarantino Archives.



Transcript
A BAND APART

Hey Richard A.K.A. "Little Quentin"

Glad to have been a source for your inspiration!

You honor me!

You are the best fucking fan ever!!!

Personally, I never use "continueds."

Make me proud.

"Big Quint"

(Signed)

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Beatles was too much

On February 28th of 1977, the manager of the Sex Pistols, Malcolm McLaren, sent the following telegram to the NME. In it, he confirmed the sacking of Glen Matlock from the band as a result of his constant talk of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, and then officially announced the introduction of Sid Vicious to the line-up; a man who, as McLaren was keen to point out, badly assaulted critic and musician Nick Kent with a bicycle chain the previous year, during a gig at 100 Club.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Jamie Colt.


Image: Jamie Colt

Transcript
28 FEB 77

DEREK JOHNSON NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS KINGSREACH TOWER STANFORD ST 5E1

YES DEREK GLEN MATLOCK WAS THROWN OUT OF THE SEX PISTOLS SO IM TOLD BECAUSE HE WENT ON TOO LONG ABOUT PAUL MCCARTNEY STOP

EMI WAS ENOUGH STOP

THE BEATLES WAS TOO MUCH STOP

SID VICIOUS THEIR BEST FRIEND AND ALWAYS A MEMBER OF THE GROUP BUT UNHEARD AS YET WAS ENLISTED STOP

HIS BEST CREDENTIAL WAS HE GAVE MICK KENT WHAT HE DESERVED MANY MONTHS AGO AT THE HUNDRED CLUB LOVE AND PEACE

MALCOLM MCLAREN

Friday, 26 August 2011

For your confidential information

Ian Fleming caused quite a stir in 1957 with the release of From Russia with Love, due in no small part to what seemed to be the death of James Bond at the novel's close. In fact, so concerned were 007 fans that the author quickly amassed thousands of worried letters. Ever the storyteller, Fleming responded by way of charming letters similar to the one below.

Transcript follows.

(The copyright in this letter is owned by the Ian Fleming Estate and is reproduced here with the Estate's permission. Further use of the letter is not permitted without the Estate's express permission.)


Image: Naomi Ashley

Transcript
KEMSLEY HOUSE, LONDON, W.C.1.

31st October, 1957.

Dear Miss Winder,

How very kind of you to have written.

For your confidential information, the following bulletin was recently placed on the canteen notice board of the headquarters of the Secret Service near Regent's Park:
"After a period of anxiety the condition of No. 007 shows definite improvement.

It has been confirmed that 007 was suffering from severe Fugu poisoning (a particularly virulent member of the curare group obtained from the sex glands of Japanese Globe fish). This diagnosis, for which the Research Department of the School of Tropical Medicine was responsible, has determined a course of treatment which is proving successful.

No further bulletins will be issued.

(Signed)

Sir James Molony,

Department of Neurology,
St. Mary's Hospital,
London, W.2. "
In view of the above, I think we can take it that James Bond will in due course be reporting fit for duty.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed)

Miss J. Winder,
[Redacted]

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Handy Nervous Breakdown Avoider

Irving Hoffman was a busy man in the 1950s and as a Broadway publicist, columnist for the Hollywood Reporter and cartoonist, he reportedly wrote and received hundreds of letters each week to and from all manner of people. However, he only had so much time. For those occasions when a personally written reply just wasn't possible, Hoffman instead responded with one of these delightful "Handy Nervous Breakdown Avoider and Mail Answering Forms." As form letters go, it's one of the greatest.

Transcript follows. Image kindly supplied by the lovely folks at the Harry Ransom Center, who just recently wrote a lovely article about the illustrated letters in their collections that's well worth a look.



Transcript
irving hoffman's HANDY NERVOUS BREAKDOWN AVOIDER
AND MAIL ANSWERING FORM

No [ ] Yes [ ] Maybe [ ]

Congratulations [ ] You deserve a medal [ ]

Get well soon [ ]

Very funny [ ] Heh Heh [ ] Tch Tch [ ]

Thanks a million [ ] I appreciate you ever so much [ ]

You're welcome [ ] Please return the enclosed [ ]

You're a sweetheart

Don't call me—I'll call you Call me [ ]

Let's both forget it [ ]

Hi from iH [ ]

I'll meet you under the clock at Grand Central Station [ ]

Let's meet in the lobby of the Astor Hotel, Hong Kong [ ]

Having a fine time wish you were here [ ]

It's really regrettable that you're going to pay a visit to your town for only 1 week. Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman just happened to have an out-of-town engagement during that particular week. (Sec'y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of town. (Sec'y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of the country. (Sec'y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman can be reached at......................... (Sec'y to Mr. Hoffman)

Mr. Hoffman is out of this world. (Sec'y to Mr. Hoffman)

This is Top Secret Security Information!

Loved your letter [ ] Did you see this? [ ]

Bon Voyage [ ]

More material coming later [ ]

Sorry, the only Kennedy I know is a bartender on 52nd Street [ ]

Where's Sam Shaw? I've been hunting for him for months. If you run into him, tell him to contact me [ ]

Happy Holidays [ ]

I thought your book started out slow but it picked up tremendously on the last page [ ]

Keep in touch [ ] I'd rather not [ ]

All goes well...well that's all [ ]

You're an ass [ ]

You're an ace [ ]

I got a kick out of this one [ ]

No hurry on this...we can foul it up later [ ]

Some nut wrote me an idiotic letter and signed your name [ ]

I was out when you called—just blind luck [ ]

Mr. Hoffman has been declared a mental incompetent. Your communication has been forwarded to his attorney [ ]

Mr. Hoffman has now retired from public life and is tending entirely to his private pursuits. To handle your problem you should get in touch with:

President Kennedy [ ] Dear Abby [ ]
George Solotaire [ ] J. Edgar Hoover [ ]

Madi$on Per$onal Loan [ ]

My Uncle Max Reibeisen takes care of all my insurance [ ]

What are you trying to say? [ ]

Out to lunch [ ] Lunch is out [ ]

English translation—Ken Cole is my friend and representative in Tokyo—not yours. Please do not bother him for hotel, restaurant, plane, train or travel reservations in Tokyo or for anything else during your stay in Japan. In plain English—go get your own Geisha!

You have paid me the highest compliment a woman ever paid a man—but I am not worthy of your love [ ]

Please enclose blood specimens with subpoenas in all paternity suits [ ]

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

COPY TO HUGH HEFNER

When he wasn't making the population laugh as part of Monty Python, the late-Graham Chapman could sometimes be found penning amusing letters. Below are just two brief examples — the first written by Chapman to his bank manager; the second to an amorous female fan.

Enjoy.

Transcripts follow each image, both of which are from the wonderful book, Calcium Made Interesting: Sketches, Letters, Essays & Gondolas.



Transcript
10 Rosslyn Court
NW1

Dear Mr Coombes,

Please stop writing these abusive letters about my overdraft. I consider it to be quite a nice one and if you keep insulting it with such wildly extravagant phrases such as 'couldn't support indefinitely', 'unsecured overdrafts', 'matter of some urgency', 'extremely high-borrowing' and 'so far to no avail', it will understandably, I feel, take offence and move to a different house where it will be more comfortable.

Yours with 'real concern'
Graham Chapman


Transcript
GRAHAM CHAPMAN

Stocks,
Aldbury,
Herts.

22 December 1976

Dear Vick,

Thank you for your kind invitation, but I don't like women with big tits.

Yours indifferently.

COPY TO HUGH HEFNER

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA

On February 2nd of 1962, Brig. Gen. William Craig sent the following memo to Brig. Gen. Edward Lansdale, commander of the Kennedy administration's Operation Mongoose — a secret project kick-started by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime." This particular memo, entitled "POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT CUBA," was exactly that: a 12-point list of possible plots to be carried out by the U.S. with a view to disrupting the Cuban Government.

Just two high/lowlights: "Operation DIRTY TRICK," in which the U.S. would capitalise on John Glenn's upcoming spaceflight should it tragically end in disaster, by planting evidence pointing to the Cubans; and "Operation GOOD TIMES," in which copies of a faked photograph of Fidel Castro — pictured overweight, surrounded by beautiful women and assorted opulence — would be air-dropped all over Cuba in order to rile the "underprivileged masses." The photo's suggested caption: "My ration is different."

Truly fascinating.

Transcript follows. Images kindly supplied by Robert Finch.


Images: Robert Finch

Transcript
TOP SECRET

POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PROVOKE, HARRASS, OR DISRUPT

-CUBA-

1. Operation SMASHER:

a. Objective: The objective is to disrupt/disable military and commercial communications facilities in Cuba.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by the clandestine introduction of a "special" vacuum tube into selected communications equipment. The tube, which is available, is virtually undetectable inasmuch as its effectiveness is due to the insertion of a chemical compound in the base of the tube. The chemical, when heated becomes a conductor, when cool a non-conductor.

2. Operation FREE RIDE:

a. Objective: The objective is to create unrest and dissension amongst the Cuban people.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by airdropping valid Pan American or KLM one-way airline tickets good for passage to Mexico City, Caracas, etc. (none to the U.S.). Tickets could be intermixed with other leaflets planned to be dropped. The number of tickets dropped could be increased. The validity of the tickets would have to be restricted to a time period.

3. Operation TURN ABOUT:

a. Objective: The objective is to create indications to Fidel Castro that his value to the revolutionary cause has diminished to the point where plans are being made for his "removal".

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by the use of intelligence means the crecendo increasing until it culminates in Castro's discovery of the mechanism or hardware.

4. Operation DEFECTOR:

a. Objective: To induce elements or individuals of the Cuban military to defect with equipment.

b. Concept: This activity when properly planned and implemented has the effect of decreasing military capability. In a totalitarian system the immediate reaction is increased security accompanied by decreased activity. It also creates havoc in security and intelligence agencies. Could be accomplished by intelligence means and promise of rewards.

5. Operation BREAK-UP:

a. Objective: To clandestinely introduce corrosive materials to cause aircraft, vehicle or boat accidents.

b. Concept: This activity, if possible should be aimed primarily toward the Soviet-provided aircraft. If properly accomplished it would degrade confidence in the equipment, increase supply and maintenance problems and seriously affect combat capability.

6. Operation COVER-UP:

a. Objective: The objective is to convince the Communist government of Cuba that Naval Forces ostensibly assigned to the MERCURY project is merely a cover.

b. Concept: It should not be revealed as to what the cover is -- this should be left to conjecture. This could tie in with Operation DIRTY TRICK.

7. Operation DIRTY TRICK:

a. Objective: The objective is to provide irrevocable proof that, should the MERCURY manned orbit flight fail, the fault lies with the Communists et al Cuba.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.

8. Operation FULL-UP:

a. Objective: The objective is to destroy confidence in fuel supplied by the Soviet Bloc by indicating it is contaminated.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by introducing a known biological agent into jet fuel storage facilities. This agent flourishes in jet fuel and grows until it consumes all the space inside the tank.

9. Operation PHANTOM:

a. Objective: The objective is to convince the Castro Government that clandestine penetration and resupply of agents is being regularly conducted.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by use of BJ, UDT, AND JJ capabilities to create the impression that landings have been made on beaches and air drops have been made in other areas.

10. Operation BINGO:

a. Objective: The objective is to create an incident which has the appearance of an attack on U.S. facilities (GMO) in Cuba, thus providing an excuse for use of U.S. military might to overthrow the current government of Cuba.

b. Concept: This to be accomplished by the use of SNAKES outside the confines of the Guantanamo Base. SNAKES simulate an actual fire-fight and upon hearing such a sound it is entirely feasible that the immediate reaction on G'Mo would be that the base is being attacked. This would, with proper preparation, be followed by a counterattack and with adequate planning the base at G'Mo could disgorge military force in sufficient number to sustain itself until other forces, which had been previously alerted, could attack in other areas. It is envisaged that a schedule of operations similar to the following would overwhelm the Cuban military and cause its defeat:

(1) Simulated attack on Guantanamo.
(2) Word flashed to the President.
(3) President orders counterattack to include:

(a) Immediate launch of alerted aircraft whose targets are Cuban airfields.
(b) Immediate launch of counterattack down strategic lines in communication in Cuba.
(c) Fleet force standing by on alert would make way toward pre-selected targets/landing areas.
(d) Immediate embarkation of airborne troops previously alerted to pre-selected targets.
(e) Launch of additional combat aircraft to clear drop areas and further interdict lines of communication.
(f) Ships and aircraft would land/airdrop troops and secure airfields, road/rail terminals, etc.
(g) Resupply and replacement activities.

Properly executed, the above could overthrow the Cuban Government in a matter of hours, providing the plan is implemented within the next six months.

11. Operation GOOD TIMES:

a. Objective: To disillusion the Cuban population with Castro image by distribution of fake photographic material.

b. Concept: Prepare a desired photograph, such as an obese Castro with two beauties in any situation desired, ostensibly within a room in the Castro residence, lavishly furnished, and a table briming over with the most delectable Cuban food with an underlying caption (appropriately Cuban) such as "My ration is different." Make as many prints as desired on sterile paper and then distribute over the countryside by air drops or agents. This should put even a Commie Dictator in the proper perspective with the underprivileged masses.

12. Operation HEAT IS ON:

a. Objective: To create the impression with Castro Government that certain dyed-in-the-wool Red pilots are planning to defect, thus causing a detrimental tightening of security.

b. Concept: It is known that many Cuban refugee pilots are personally acquainted with many of the present CRAF pilots. Accordingly, by utilizing all sources available, determine by name those pilots considered to be dedicated Castro Reds. Then by use of agents, communications, etc. inject into the Castro intelligence system the fact that these pre-designated Reds are planning to defect for monetary and/or ideological reasons. Security crackdown should help destroy Castro image and also impose unacceptable restrictions on routine training activities.

Monday, 22 August 2011

My work is done. Why wait?

On the evening of March 14th, 1932, the founder of Eastman Kodak and inventor of roll film, George Eastman, gathered a group of his friends at his home in order to witness a change of his will. Eastman was 77 years of age, and for the past few years had seen his health decline rapidly due to what is now believed to have been spinal stenosis. Later that evening, with the task complete, he asked his friends to leave and retired to his bedroom where, moments later, he was found dead with a gunshot wound to his chest. The following note was by his side.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of rchappo2002.


Image: rchappo2002

Transcript
To my friends

My work is done

Why wait?

GE

Friday, 19 August 2011

ENERGY EQUALS MASS TIMES THE SPEED OF LIGHT SQUARED STOP



Back in 1936, renowned sculptor Isamu Noguchi was in Mexico working on a 72-ft-long public mural when he hit a snag: for some reason, he couldn't precisely recall the famous formula, E=mc². Rather than risk a mistake, he decided to seek advice and wired his good friend, Buckminster Fuller — a famed architect and great admirer of Einstein — for clarification.

Rather than just respond with the equation, Fuller went the extra mile and soon sent the following to his friend — a magnificent telegram in which he also explained it in 264 words.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Dr. G. Proyas; Image: Buckminster Fuller, via.)



Transcript
WESTERN UNION

Isamu Noguchi Care Greenwood 66 Calle Republica Coumbia Mexico City

EINSTEINS FORMULA DETERMINATION INDIVIDUAL SPECIFICS RELATIVITY READS QUOTE ENERGY EQUALS MASS TIMES THE SPEED OF LIGHT SQUARED UNQUOTE SPEED OF LIGHT IDENTICAL SPEED ALL RADIATION COSMIC GAMMA X ULTRA VIOLET INFRA RED RAYS ETCETERA ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY SIX THOUSAND MILES PER SECOND WHICH SQUARED IS TOP OR PERFECT SPEED GIVING SCIENCE A FINITE VALUE FOR BASIC FACTOR IN MOTION UNIVERSE STOP

SPEED OF RADIANT ENERGY BEING DIRECTIONAL OUTWARD ALL DIRECTIONS EXPANDING WAVE SURFACE DIAMETRIC POLAR SPEED AWAY FROM SELF IS TWICE SPEED IN ONE DIRECTION AND SPEED OF VOLUME INCREASE IS SQUARE OF SPEED IN ONE DIRECTION APPROXIMATELY THIRTY FIVE BILLION VOLUMETRIC MILES PER SECOND STOP

FORMULA IS WRITTEN QUOTE LETTER E FOLLOWED BY EQUATION MARK FOLLOWED BY LETTER M FOLLOWED BY LETTER C FOLLOWED CLOSELY BY ELEVATED SMALL FIGURE TWO SYMBOL OF SQUARING UNQUOTE ONLY VARIABLE IN FORMULA IS SPECIFIC MASS SPEED IS A UNIT OF RATE WHICH IS AN INTEGRATED RATIO OF BOTH TIME AND SPACE AND NO GREATER RATE OF SPEED THAN THAT PROVIDED BY ITS CAUSE WHICH IS PURE ENERGY LATENT OR RADIANT IS ATTAINABLE STOP

THE FORMULA THEREFORE PROVIDES A UNIT AND A RATE OF PERFECTION TO WHICH THE RELATIVE IMPERFECTION OF INEFFICIENCY OF ENERGY RELEASE IN RADIANT OR CONFINED DIRECTION OF ALL TEMPORAL SPACE PHENOMENA MAY BE COMPARED BY ACTUAL CALCULATION STOP

SIGNIFICANCE STOP

SPECIFIC QUALITY OF ANIMATES IS CONTROL WILLFUL OR OTHERWISE OF RATE AND DIRECTION ENERGY RELEASE AND APPLICATION NOT ONLY OF SELF MECHANISM BUT OF FROM SELF MACHINE DIVIDED MECHANISMS AND RELATIVITY OF ALL ANIMATES AND INANIMATES IS POTENTIAL OF ESTABLISHMENT THROUGH EINSTEIN FORMULA

BUCKY

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Factory


The Factory, c.1966 | Image: Tuscene

One can only imagine the parties that occurred on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street during the 60s, for this was Andy Warhol's Factory, the very studio in which his famous silkscreens were created on a daily basis; a veritable hot-spot that welcomed a steady stream of visitors that included, amongst many, many others, Jagger, Dylan, Capote, Ginsberg, Dali, Morrison, and Burroughs. From 1965 the Factory even had a house band of sorts, in the form of The Velvet Underground. No wonder the parties were so regular and legendary. It was the place to be.

With that in mind, it's hard not to sympathise with Warhol's landlord at the time...

Transcript follows. Image found in the stunning book, The Velvet Underground: New York Art.



Transcript
ELK REALTY, INC.
1107 BROADWAY
NEW YORK, N. Y. 10010
AREA CODE 212
WATKINS 4-3560

November 15, 1965

Mr. Andy Warhol
231 East 47 Street
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Warhol:

We have been advised that you have been giving parties in the fourth floor space occupied by you. We understand that they are generally large parties and are held after usual office hours. We have found that your guests have left debris and litter in the public areas which you have never bothered to clean. Further, we feel that a congregation of the number of people such as you have had may be contrary to various applicable governmental rules and regulations and also might present a serious problem with the Fire Department regulations.

Your lease, of course, does not permit such use and occupancy and you hereby directed not to have any such parties in this building.

Very truly yours,

ELK REALTY, INC., Agents

(Signed)

Alfred R. Goldstein
President

ARG:sd

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Sweetheart come

On February 7th of 1909, a 30-year-old mother of two by the name of Emma Hauck was admitted to the psychiatric hospital of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, having recently been diagnosed with dementia praecox (schizophrenia). The outlook improved briefly and a month later she was discharged, only to be readmitted within weeks as her condition deteriorated further. Sadly, the downturn continued and in August of that year, with her illness deemed "terminal" and rehabilitation no longer an option, Emma was transferred to Wiesloch asylum, the facility in which she would pass away eleven years later.

It was around this time that a heartbreaking collection of letters, some of which can be seen below, were discovered in the archives of the Heidelberg hospital; all written obsessively in Emma's hand during her second stay at the clinic in 1909, at a time when reports indicate she was relentlessly speaking of her family. Each desperate letter is directed at her absent husband, Mark, and every page is thick with overlapping text. Some are so condensed as to be illegible; some read "Herzensschatzi komm" ("Sweetheart come") over and over; others simply repeat the plea, "komm komm komm," ("come come come") thousands of times.

None were sent.

Huge thanks to the wonderful Moose Allain for bringing these incredible documents to my attention. They were collated in the early-1920s as part of the Prinzhorn Collection and are referenced in the book, Beyond Reason: Art and Psychosis Works From the Prinzhorn Collection.


Image Source: Lemmy Caution


Image Source: Tallis


Image Source: Prinzhorn Collection


Image Source: Mongyuma

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Amateur comedy is too "On the nail"

Back in 1997, aged 19, then-aspiring comedian Mike Scott sent a letter to one of his biggest influences, Phil Hartman, along with a selection of his amateur comedy sketches on an audio tape. The letter spoke at length of his hopes and dreams, and politely sought any advice Hartman was able to give. Four months later the following handwritten reply arrived at Mike's door, complete with invaluable, honest, constructive criticism — advice that he immediately took on board. Says Mike:
This meant the world to me. A man that was THAT busy at the time (doing Newsradio, The Simpsons, commercials, films, and God-knows-what-else) took the time out to not only respond to my letter, but listen to the tape I sent him. It wasn't lost on me, even at that age.
Over the next year, Mike proceeded to compile a tape of fresh material and pen a follow-up letter; a progress report of sorts. It was still being written when, in May of 1998, the tragic news of Phil's murder stunned the nation.
I never got to send that package. I never got to thank him. Who would have known he was going to be taken from us so early? With every piece I create I hope I make Phil proud. He was the most brilliant performer and was not just overwhelmingly beloved by his fans, but by his peers that never had a bad word to say about him. He was everywhere and still so many people don't realize just how much he was involved in. Because he was a man of so many talents, I am always finding new material with him in it, so it's not like he's really gone.
Transcript follows. Images courtesy of the letter's recipient, Mike Scott, whose cartoons can be enjoyed on YouTube. Many thanks, Mike!



Transcript
3/31/97

Michael -

Hi. Thanks for your letter. I listened to your tape, enough of it to hear that you have true natural talent. Your voice is pleasant to the ear. That, I think is your basic talent. Your humor is like a lot of comedy I hear today...angry, somewhat mean spirited, okay I guess if that's what makes your friends laugh. Sure. Go there. Maybe I'm old. I honestly recognize that a lot of humor (my humor, too) is hostile. But when it's too on the nail..."I can't stand Alannis, Nickelodeon, etc."...to me, it lacks craft and subtlety. Look at Letterman. His humor is hostile. But it holds back, to network standards, and yet still works beautifully. He doesn't go all the way. You seem to be going more toward a Howard Stern sensibility, and I prefer Letterman. So there you go. "And that's OKAY," as Stuart Smalley says. I just have a sense that you could be more than a shock jock. It's just a hunch. As artists we all face the same challenge -- What is funny about me? Or, more pertinently, Who am I? If you dislike Alannis, and say so bluntly, that's not funny. If you make a TOP TEN LIST OF OTHER THINGS ALANNIS FINDS "IRONIC," that can be funny, and still allow you to express your antipathy. Amateur comedy is too "On the nail." You need to develop craft. In school, in a radio gig, a theatre group, improv troupe, or standup showcase. Don't be discouraged. You have talent. Personally, I like your own voice more than your impressions and character work. Just work, wherever you can. You'll grow and refine and be great. Be patient. (I didn't start acting till I was 27). You've got a head start.

Go for it,
[Signed]

Monday, 15 August 2011

To Our Very Best Pal JOHN WAYNE (Or Occupant)

It seems the jokes didn't end when the cameras stopped rolling on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, the much-loved NBC comedy sketch show that originally ran from 1968 until 1973 and, over the course of its 140 episodes, featured countless appearances by celebrities. One such guest was John Wayne. He received the following fantastic letter of thanks in August of 1973, just a few months after the show's final episode had aired. It was written by the show's hosts, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions.



Transcript
Rowan and Martin

August 16, 1973

To Our Very Best Pal JOHN WAYNE (Or Occupant):

When Dick said to me "Say Dan, we should have JOHN WAYNE in our Hollywood Boys Glee Club", I couldn't have agreed more. I said "I couldn't agree more, Dick, because I have considered JOHN a marvelous performer since his (her) wonderful performance(s) in SINGING COWBOY, DONOVAN'S REEF, and BOYS IN THE BAND." (Note to secretary: If he (she) hasn't done anything lately, send version B on the cheap stationery.)

Anyway, JOHN, it was great having you with us on AUG 16, 1973. We enjoyed your singing, acting, dancing. Thanks again and regards to your wife, husband or whatever.

In closing, Dick and I both agree that of all the celebrities you, JOHN, were the best one.

Very truly yours,

Dan and/or Dick

P.S. One last thing, JOHN. This is a personal note just to you, so please don't embarrass us by mentioning it to anyone else.

COPIES TO:

Edward Asner
Ernest Borgnine
Jack Carter
Howard Cosell
Glenn Ford
Redd Foxx
Kent McCord
Martin Milner
Charles Nelson Reilly
John Wayne

ALSO TO:

William Morris Agency
NBC Public Relations
Rona Barrett
Daily Variety
New York Times
John Dean

Friday, 12 August 2011

I NEED TO TELL YOU MY EMOTION

From one master to another. A telegram received in 1968 by Stanley Kubrick shortly after the release of his cinematic tour de force, 2001: A Space Odyssey—sent to him by fellow filmmaker, Federico Fellini.

Transcript follows.

(Source: The Stanley Kubrick Archives.)



Transcript
SE
RCEIVED 4.9.68 DISTRIBUTION MR KUBRICK

METROBRIT BORWO

ERE STALBANS TELEGRAMS ONE MSGE FOR YOU
720 1.55 LONDON V 36 STANLEY KO EEE
STANLEY KUBRECH M G M STUDIOS BOREHAMWOOD =

DEAR STANLEY I SAW YESTERDAY YOUR FILM AND I NEED TO TELL YOU MY EMOTION MY ENTHUSIASM STOP I WISH YOU THE BEST LUCK IN YOUR PATH FEDERICO FELLINI +++

METROBRIT BORWD

TS 2791

M

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Many times I have kissed and cryed over this

Here's a fascinting missive written to Charles Darwin in 1839 by his wife, Emma, shortly after the inception of his theory of evolution, in which she openly worries about his dwindling faith and, midway through the letter, asks him not to be blinded to the possibilities of things "which if true are likely to be above our comprehension" whilst consumed by his scientific pursuits. Darwin's reaction is illustrated by his incredibly touching note at the foot of the letter, added some months later.

Note: Apparently Emma 'affectonately' referred to Charles as her 'Nigger' on more than one occasion.

Transcript follows. Images courtesy of Darwin Online. Huge thanks to Araceli for suggesting it.



Transcript
The state of mind that I wish to preserve with respect to you, is to feel that while you are acting conscientiously & sincerely wishing & trying to learn the truth, you cannot be wrong, but there are some reasons that force themselves upon me & prevent my being always able to give myself this comfort. I dare say you have often thought of them before, but I will write down what has been in my head, knowing that my own dearest will indulge me. Your mind & time are full of the most interesting subjects & thoughts of the most absorbing kind, viz following up yr own discoveries — but which make it very difficult for you to avoid casting out as interruptions other sorts of thoughts which have no relation to what you are pursuing or to make it possible for to be able to give your whole attention to both sides of the question. There is another reason which would have a great effect on a woman, but I don't know whether it wd so much on a man — I mean E. [Erasmus, Charles's elder brother] whose understanding you have such a very high opinion of & whom you have so much affection for, having gone before you — is it not likely to have made it easier to you & to have taken off some of that dread & fear which the feeling of doubting first gives & which I do not think an unreasonable or superstitious feeling. It seems to me also that the line of your pursuits may have led you to view chiefly the difficulties on one side, & that you have not had time to consider & study the chain of difficulties on the other, but I believe you do not consider your opinion as formed. May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way, & which if true are likely to be above our comprehension. I should say also that there is a danger in giving up revelation which does not exist on the other side, that is the fear of ingratitude in casting off what has been done for your benefit as well as for that of all the world & which ought to make you still more careful, perhaps even fearful lest you should not have taken all the pains you could to judge truly. I do I not know whether this is arguing as if one side were true & the other false, which I meant to avoid, but I think not. I do not quite agree with you in what you once said — that luckily there were no doubts as to how one ought to act. I think prayer is an instance to the contrary, in one case it is a positive duty & perhaps not in the other. But I dare say you meant in actions which concern others & then I agree with you almost if not quite. I do not wish for any answer to all this — it is a satisfaction to me to write it & when I talk to you about it I cannot say exactly what I wish to say, & I know you will have patience, with your own dear wife. Don't think that it is not my affair & that it does not much signify to me. Every thing that concerns you concerns me & I should be most unhappy if I thought we did not belong to each other forever I am rather afraid my own d ear Nigger will think I have forgotten my promise not to bother him, but I am sure he loves me & I cannot tell him how happy he makes me & how dearly I love him & thank him for all his affection which makes the happiness of my life more & more every day.

[The following was added by Charles Darwin at a later date]

When I am dead, know
that many times, I
have kissed & cryed
over this. C. D.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

We were not found wanting



On November 27th of 1963, Charles Jack Price, then-Administrator of Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas, proudly sent the following memo to all staff and made clear his appreciation for their professional conduct over the past week—a period during which, as the world's population looked on in horror, the hospital had seen the deaths of two people in particular on its premises: John F. Kennedy, and his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Transcript follows. Memo taken from the More Letters of Note book. For more info and to read reviews of that book, go here.



Transcript
DALLAS COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT
Office Memorandum
November 27, 1963

To: All Employees

At 12:38 p.m., Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Texas' Governor John Connally were brought to the Emergency Room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being struck down by the bullets of an assassin.

At 1:07 p.m., Sunday, November 24, 1963, Lee. H. Oswald, accused assassin of the late president, died in an operating room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being shot by a bystander in the basement of Dallas' City Hall. In the intervening 48 hours and 31 minutes Parkland Memorial Hospital had:

1. Become the temporary seat of the government of the United States.

2. Become the temporary seat of the government of the State of Texas.

3. Become the site of the death of the 35th President.

4. Become the site of the ascendency of the 36th President.

5. Become site of the death of President Kennedy's accused assassin.

6. Twice become the center of the attention of the world.

7. Continued to function at close to normal pace as a large charity hospital.

What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness? Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive. Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.

(Signed)

C. J. Price
Administrator

Monday, 8 August 2011

I have no personal knowledge of computers

June, 1956: Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, Bill Hewlett, writes to then-Provost at Stanford and the man widely considered to be one of the "Fathers of Silicon Valley," Fred Terman, "I have no personal knowledge of computers nor does anyone in our organization have any appreciable knowledge."

Terman was a member of the US Army Signal Corps' advisory board at the time, and when asked by the army how best to acquire a computer for research purposes, he naturally turned to Hewlett — one of his former students — for assistance. Unfortunately, HP were then immersed in the world of electronic test equipment and, as such, had very little knowledge of a product from which they would eventually make huge profits; hence this reply. 10 years later, they introduced one of the world's first 16-bit minicomputers: the HP-2116A.

Transcript follows. Image courtesy of Steve Blank. Many thanks to Mac Harwood for suggesting it.


Image: Steve Blank

Transcript
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY
June 13, 1956

Dr. F. E. Terman
Office of the Provost
Stanford University
Stanford, California

Dear Fred:

I have no personal knowledge of computers nor does anyone in our organization have any appreciable knowledge.

Sorry we can't help you out in this regard.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed, 'Bill')

William R. Hewlett

WRH/ma