April 2006


The Statue of Liberty to do a "360"?



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Thank You For Smoking: The Other Buckley

All know of the father: William F. Buckley Jr. Fewer know of the son: Christopher Buckley. But hopefully, this will begin to be remedied with the current release of the film Thank You For Smoking, based on the son’s best selling novel of twelve years ago. Herein lies that rare case, where the style and spirit of a wonderful book, has been faithfully transported to the screen.

We had first gotten to meet Christopher Buckley almost 15 years ago, when we trafficked in the advertising trade. He was (and still is) the Editor of Forbes FYI magazine; we were buyers of ad space. Beyond a buyer-seller relationship, we had begun a personal correspondence on various and sundry matters. A gracious man, he was kind enough to offer positive input to a then fledgling poet. (And he liked our Catholic school penmanship).

Mr. Buckley is beyond prolific. In addition to his many novels and collections of essays (…Smoking, No Way To Treat a First Lady, Wry Martinis, Little Green Men, Florence of Arabia, etc) he is a frequent contributor to many magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker (in which over 50 of his comic essays have appeared), The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall St. Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair, Time, etc., etc., etc. The literary world, long aware of his talents, awarded him the ninth annual Thurber Prize for American Humor in 2004.

As if that were not enough, and in the proverbial case of perhaps an apple not falling too far from the tree, he is an engaging public speaker in much demand.

But for us, the “Quintessential Christopher,” is best illustrated by a national media faux pas he inadvertently caused many years ago. To quote briefly from a NY Times account of the episode:

“In 1991, Mr. Buckley published a story in Forbes FYI reporting
that the cash-strapped Ministry of the Interior in Moscow was now
prepared to sell the embalmed remains of the founder of Marxism-
Leninism to the highest bidder: ‘Obviously, the Lenin corpse is not
for everyone (Buckley wrote). . . . But the item is fairly compact
and could be accommodated to fit in most large dens.’

Peter Jennings faithfully relayed the item on ABC's World News

To Christopher Buckley we say: Thank You For Satirizing.


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Short-Poem-of-the-Month Club

The Wine Turns

Once we waxed wise on
     what wine went with what.

Red        meat
     white       fish!

Redro eht esrever ot
     emoc evah ew.

                       Ron Vazzano


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Da Cipherin’ Da Vinci

One good offshoot to all of the hoopla concerning The Da Vinci Code, is a renewed interest in Leonardo Da Vinci himself. There seems to be a plethora, a cornucopia—a veritable plethorius cornucopium— of newly published and reissued books about this true genius. Math and the Mona Lisa: The Art and Science of Leonardo Da Vinci (Smithsonian Books), being the latest book to hit the stores.

But a favorite of ours that we read a few years ago, has the unlikely title of How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day (1998). This daunting imperative hangs on the question:

“Can the fundamentals of Leonardo’s approach to learning and
the cultivation of intelligence be abstracted and applied to inspire
and guide us toward the realization of our own full potential?”

A mouthful indeed. But obviously, author Michael J. Gelb, in “drawing on Da Vinci’s notebooks, invention and legendary works of art,” has answered the question with a resounding “yes!”

What we love about this book, is that not only was it interesting, but applicable.

Making no claims to genius ourselves (we still cannot operate the TiVo system in our home… requiring the help of spouse, offspring and the family dog ), we have instinctively been trying to practice many of these seven principles for years.

They particularly seem to resonate with poetry— the reading and writing thereof. (see #7 in particular). Though we can also remember using some of them in business presentations as well.

We pass along to you, this Holy Grail:

1. Curiosità— an insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning

2. Dimostrazione — a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes

3. Sensazione — the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.

4. Sfumato (literally “Going up in Smoke”) — a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.

5. Arte/Scienza — the development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-brain” thinking.

6. Corporalita — the cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise.

7. Connessione — a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena.

For further information, or to purchase the book, you can click on this ungodly “code” below.


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By the way…

While Miss Liberty does indeed stand in New Jersey’s waters, we must confess to our total fabrication of the opening piece in this Muse-Letter. It was all done in the spirit of…

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The End

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