Tom Waits on Fame and Recognition

A 1959 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, which may be similar to the one Tom Waits drives. (Lars-Göran/

He’s home almost all the time, because—unlike other dads—he doesn’t have a day job. Which is why he’s known by local schools as the guy they can count on whenever they need an adult to do the driving for a field trip.
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Larry David on the Ocean

A slightly smaller version of one of eight postcards available for download at's Curb Your Enthusiasm section.

“I don’t really get this fascination that people have with the ocean. I mean, I stare at it for ten minutes and I go, Ok, I get it…I feel aggravated that I’m missing what other people are getting.”

— Larry David, star of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, in second season episode entitled “The Thong.” [See: Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Curb Review, One more time for HotManila.PH]

Machlin on being mentioned in a column by Walter Winchell

Walter Winchell, considered as the inventor of the gossip column, is seen here broadcasting in front of the White House during an inaugural parade of US President Dwight Eisenhower. (Red Grandy/S&S via Wikipedia)

“In the pre-war days around the Stork, Winchell was the most exciting man in the world to us,” a middle-aged matron who had grown up in Billingsley’s posh playpen commented. “When I first began dating the man I later married, Winchell said we were ‘closerthanthis.’ When we married, he called it ‘a slight case of merger’ and when I became pregnant, he said we were ‘infanticipating.’ When the baby arrived, he noted that we had joined ‘the mom-and-population.’
“When the marriage soured, W. W. told the world we had ‘the Mr. and miseries’ which quickly developed into ‘the apartache’ which led out ‘sharing separate teepees.’ It was only a matter of time until we ‘Renovated’ and disappeared from the columns as if we never existed.
“Strange as it seems, we got a great sense of importance out of being recorded by Winchell in this fashion.”

— From The Gossip Wars, a 1981 book written by Milt Machlin, citing an anonymous socialite about the experience of seeing her name in a column by Walter Winchell, considered as the inventor of the gossip column. [See: Walter Winchell, The Stork Club, The Gossip Wars]

Mencken on Actors

A hardcover copy of H.L. Mencken: Prejudices: The Complete Series (Library of America), which I would like to have on my shelf. (Photo from

But why are actors, in general, such blatant and obnoxious asses, such arrant posturers and wind-bags? Why is it as surprising to find an unassuming and likable fellow among them as to find a Greek without fleas? The answer is quite simple. To reach it one needs but consider the type of young man who normally gets stage-struck. Is he, taking averages, the intelligent, alert, ingenious, ambitious young fellow? Is he the young fellow with ideas in him, and a yearning for hard and difficult work? Is he the diligent reader, the hard student, the eager inquirer? No. He is, in the overwhelming main, the neighborhood fop and beau, the human clothes-horse, the nimble squire of dames. The youths of more active mind, emerging from adolescence, turn to business and the professions; the men that they admire and seek to follow are men of genuine distinction, men who have actually done difficult and valuable things, men who have fought good (if often dishonest) fights and are respected and envied by other men. The stage-struck youth is of a softer and more shallow sort. He seeks, not a chance to test his mettle by hard and useful work, but an easy chance to shine. He craves the regard, not of men, but of women. He is, in brief, a hollow and incompetent creature, a strutter and poseur, a popinjay, a pretty one…. I thus beg the question, but explain the actor. He is this silly youngster grown older, but otherwise unchanged. An initiate of a profession requiring little more information, culture or capacity for ratiocination than that of the lady of joy, and surrounded in his work-shop by men who are as stupid, as vain and as empty as he himself will be in the years to come, he suffers an arrest of development, and the little intelligence that may happen to be in him gets no chance to show itself. The result, in its usual manifestation, is the average bad actor — a man with the cerebrum of a floor-walker and the vanity of a fashionable clergyman. The result, in its highest and holiest form is the actor-manager, With his retinue of press-agents, parasites and worshipping wenches — perhaps the most preposterous and awe-inspiring donkey that civilization has yet produced. To look for sense in a fellow of such equipment and such a history would be like looking for serviettes in a sailors’ boarding-house.

— From Damn!: A Book of Calumny by Henry Louis Mencken [See: H. L. Mencken, Damn!]

Cringely on the Apple Macintosh

iPod Nano 6G watch by MINIMAL, a design house (from The Unofficial Apple Weblog)

Apple’s Macintosh, which used to have more than seventy separate computer chips, is now down to fewer than thirty. In two years, a Macintosh will have seven chips. Two years after that, the Mac will be two chips, and Apple won’t be a computer company anymore. By then Apple will be software company that sells operating systems and applications for single-chip computers made by Motorola. The MacMotorola chips themselves may be installed in desktops, in notebooks, in television sets, in cars, in the wiring of houses, even in wristwatches. Getting the PC out of the box will fuel the next stage of growth in computing. Your 1998 Macintosh may be built by Nissan and parked in the driveway, or maybe it will be a Swatch.

— from book published in 1992 entitled Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date by Robert X. Cringely [See: Accidental Empires, Robert X. Cringely]

Lewis on explaining the rise and fall of the US dollar

With Plenty of Money and You (which is a title of a Tony Bennett song with the Count Basie Orchestra) Photo by Michael A. Keller/Corbis

When the dollar moved, it was usually because some other central banker or politician somewhere had made a statement. (The markets would be far more peaceful if politicians kept their views on the future path of the dollar to themselves. In view of the high percentage of times they end up apologizing for, or modifying, their remarks, it is a wonder they don’t stifle themselves.)
But there was no such news.
I told Alexander [a client] that several Arabs had sold massive holdings of gold, for which they received dollars.
They were selling those dollars for marks and thereby driving the dollar lower.
I spent much of my working life inventing logical lies like this.
Most of the time when markets move, no one has any idea why.
A man who can tell a good story can make a good living as a broker. It was the job of people like me to make up reasons, to spin a plausible yarn.
And it’s amazing what people will believe. Heavy selling out of the Middle East was an old standby.
Since no one ever had any clue what the Arabs were doing with their money or why, no story involving Arabs could ever be refuted.

— Michael Lewis from his book, Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street [see: Michael Lewis, Liar’s Poker]