NYTimes’ Poet-in-Residence

Beginning in 2008, Dr. Larry Eisenberg  (see below)  contributed more than 13,000 letters to the Editor of the New York Times.  His huge output most often took the form of limericks regardless of the topic upon which he commented.  He was called “the closest thing this paper has to a poet in residence.” He died last December.  Here are some samples of his work.


In a 2011 feature, he was asked to supply a brief biographical summary for readers.  20 minutes later, this was his answer:


A nonagenarian, I

A sometime writer of sci-fi,

Biomed engineer,

Gen’rally of good cheer, With lim’ricks in ready supply.


About baseball he said:

True, the Mets lost their place in the Sun,

But the year has moved onward by one, Wounds have healed, time to grin

At each has-been brought in,

Chance of winning? Between slim & none!


A TV review went this way:

“Homeland” with time brought up to date,

Owes to “Manchurian Candidate”?

Is the theme tired, And hardly inspired?

Production and cast are first rate.



After the 2016 election of President Trump, Dr. Eisenberg said:

In 2011, he spoke on the topic of social media:

Was there no Life before there was Twitter?

Was it stodgy, lackluster or bitter?

I find Life too fleeting

To spend time in Tweeting,

I’m a face-to-face kind of critter!


After the 2016 election of President Trump he said:

A mauler, a grabber, abuser,

A do whatever you chooser

Non-thinker, non-reader

A spoiled-children breeder

An every trick-in-the-book user.


About his passing, the Times said:

Larry Eisenberg, whom we well know,

Has died (and his age is below)…99.

He opined on the news

With limericks, whose

Delightfulness leavens our woe.






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Just Another Day

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 was just another day.  I read a newspaper.  (Remember when we all did that?)  And the top stories included these items.  An essay by Thomas L. Friedman (New York Times Opinion Columnist) (see photo below)  with the heading: “Tiger Woods and the Game of Life.  Golf is all about how you react when you get a bad bounce.”


His column was unusual because Mr. Friedman’s day job “is writing the foreign affairs column for The New York Times.”  He said: “It’s hard for nongolfers to appreciate the scope of Tiger’s physical and psychological achievement, after he went through four back surgeries and (much tabloid exposure).  Winning a 5thMasters was an exceptional achievement.”

“The biggest takeaway for me is the reminder of the truism that golf is the sport most like life, because it is played on an uneven surface.  Good and bad bounces are built into the game, and so much of success in golf is about how you react to those good and bad bounces.”

“Golf is played under pressure and every shot must take into account four things: physics, geometry, geography, and psychology.”  Mr. Friedman evaluated Tiger’s performance in a unique piece of writing.

There were other stories that caught my eye on April 16th.  In baseball, all players wore number 42 on their uniforms to honor the memory of Jackie Robinson who integrated MLB on that date in 1947.  That story brought to mind the contributions of other baseball men of color (eg, Curt Flood and RobertoClemente) who also played significant roles in the integration of baseball.  And there was this quote by James Baldwin in 1962: “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.”

April 16 was the birthday of two “famous people” I admired: Peter Billingsley (“Ralphie”, the youngster in “A Christmas Story” –now age 45) and Kareem Abdul-Jabber, age 72; I assume he needs no introduction).

Pulitzer Prizes were announced on April 16th.  And, in France, Notre Dame de Paris burned.  Plus, somewhere in The United States, a man with the Initials DJT must have done something he thought outweighed the importance of all these events.  As usual, he was wrong.

Yes, Tuesday, April 16, 2019 was just another day.  Important, and complicated, and difficult to keep in perspective.


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The Top 25 War Movies of All Time

I grew up in the 1940s and 1950s.  My Father fought WWII in Europe and missed a couple of my birthdays.  Like all my playmates, I watched every episode of “Victory at Sea” on a new thing called television.  It was a series of documentaries describing important battles in that World War.  Still, I missed seeing my Father in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of the first Concentration Camp (Bergen-Belsen).  And, of course, everyone saw films about WWII.  Dozens of them.

With that as background, the other day I saw an article on the internet intitled: “The Top 25 War Movies of All Time.”  You must have seen articles like it.  They, often, are slotted following a main article.  Their titles might be: “The Top 25 Shortstops Ever,” (Honus Wagner was number 1) or   “The Greatest Rock Bands,” (the Stones were 4th, The Beatles were 1st).

In case you missed the WWII article, here are the selections for the top films.  Each has a very brief comment.


  • Apocalypse Now. Not just one of the best war movies, but one of finest films period. War can turn men into monsters.


  • Zero Dark Thirty. Dramatizes what happened in the decade-long search for                  Osama bin Laden.


  • Lawrence of Arabia. The story of T. E. Lawrence.  Introduced many movie-goers to Peter O’Toole.


  • Full Metal Jacket. Stanley Kubrick’s film message = The demoralizing of war.


  • Saving Private Ryan. 20+ years later, the film’s opening 30-minute sequence (The D-Day invasion) still stands as iconic film-making.  My choice for Best War Film).  (See Tom Hanks below).


SPR-Tom Hanks








      .Platoon. You can boil it down to a single image: Willem Defoe dying


  • Bridge on the River Kwai. Won seven Academy Awards (eg, Best Film).


  • The Deer Hunter. Have you forgotten Christopher Walken’s performance yet? How?!


  • Gone with the Wind. It boils down to one sentence: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  Imagine how that line played in 1939.


  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.Before I saw it, I thought: “Two sailing ships.  How good can it be?”  Afterward, I thought: “Wow!  Russell Crown and Paul Bethany: exceptional.


  • Pattoon. George C. Scott won Best Actor.  My Father did not recognize the film’s Patton.  (ie, not an Oscar winner)


  • Das Boot. One of, if not the best, submarine movies ever.


  • Paths of Glory. “A righteous indignation at the unapologetic cowardice of the craven old men who sent others off to die on the field of battle.”


  • Three Kings. Saddam Hussein steals gold from Kuwait, and George Clooney with friends steal it back.


  • Schindler’s List. A German businessman saves thousands of Jews from extermination. Another great film from Spielberg.


  • Hacksaw Ridge. The first Conscientious Objector to receive the Congessional Medal of Honor for rescuing 75 men.


  • The Hurt Locker. “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”


  • The Great Escape. True story, wonderful cast, Steve McQueen rides motorcycle as American and German.


  • Beasts of No Nation. Movie about Child Soldiers in Africa.  (Also starred Idris Alba.  I had to mention him.  Ever see him as Luther on PBS?  Catch him if you can.  Find out why he’s talked about as the next James Bond.)


  • Empire of the Sun. Spielberg’s lament for the loss of a child’s innocence during wartime. The child is played by Christian Bale (pre-Batman).


  • Black Hawk Down. 88 Americans died or were wounded in Somalia in 1993.


  • Letters from Iwo Jima. Clint Eastwood’s better WWII film.


  • Inglorious Basterds. Film goers meet Christoph Waltz, and in Quentin Tarantino’s film, Hitler dies differently.


  • Dunkirk. A reenactment of the 1940 evacuation of 400,000 British and Allied soldiers.


  • The Pianist. Adrian Brody portrays a pianist caught in WWII; wins Best Actor Oscar; kisses Halle Berry.


Who would be your choice (s)? 










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Top Dogs

The New York Yankees, perhaps baseball’s most famous team, have won 27                                      championships.  But there is another group even more successful.  This year, the American Kennel Club chose Labrador Retrievers as the most popular breed for the 28thconsecutive year!  (We have had two ourselves. Thank you Angus and Jake. Each of them made more catches in an afternoon than Willie Mays did in a week.)  (see pictures of Labs below)


Why their popularity? Some reasons probably include their intelligence, friendliness, and being great with children.  How many times have you seen a very young child pulling and poking a Lab who waits patiently for a pause in “playtime”?  Are we as patient with a 2 year old?


Plus, 55% of Americans age 50 – 80 own pets who help them enjoy life, reduce stress, feel loved, give them a sense of purpose, stay physically active, and connect with other people.


And, finally,  the AKC’s 10 most popular breeds for 2018 are: 1) Labrador Retriever, 2) German Shepherd, 3) Golden Retriever, 4) French Bulldog, 5) Bulldog, 6) Beagle, 7) Poodle, 8) Rottweiler, 9) German Shorthaired Pointer (a new high for this breed), 10) Yorkshire Terrier.



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The Finest Mr. Hyde

Those of you too young to remember the actor, Jack Palance, missed a treat.  6’ 4”, until he got older and slouched to reach 6’ 3”, a former boxer and injured member of a WWII bomber crew whose face was “improved” with surgery, he “often played a film’s menacing villain with an imposing physique and authoritative voice.” In 1956, he played an over-the-hill, but loyal boxer in the TV drama from Rod Serling, “Requiem for a Heavyweight.” It won awards.  He was Marlon Brando’s Broadway understudy in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”  It, too, won awards.  For much of his film career he played villains, quite well.  For example, in 1953, he played opposite Alan Ladd in “Shane.” As the evil Jack Wilson, (see below)


Palance cemented his performance as film’s baddest guy opposite the buckskin-clad hero.  He was nominated for an award, but won no Oscar …until 1991 when he was successful in 1991’s Billy Crystal’s “City Slickers” as an older, wiser, funnier cowboy. (see below)



When accepting his award, he said he he didn’t know what to do, so –on stage—he did some one-arm push-ups, as he did in military service.  The audience loved it.  Off screen, he was a writer, poet, rancher, and spoke 6 languages.  In a film entitled “The Professionals,” he played a bad guy with a heart of gold who required Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and Woody Strode to be brought in –only to then be let go because the “bad guy” was the story’s good guy after all.

But my favorite piece of his work was from a television production, in 1968, of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  Remember the story?  A medical doctor, through his research, wants to set aside a man’s lesser qualities and emphasize only a man’s good intentions.  He experiments  on himself and, dang, doesn’t it turn out just the opposite.  Under the spell of his magic potion, he became a gambler, womanizer, cruel type of guy.  (Don’t you hate it when that happens?!)  How bad was he?  While dressed in fine clothes, tails and top hat, he carried a walking stick whose leaded handle doubled as a club and whose wooden shaft housed a small sword. (see below for a happy Mr. Hyde and contrasting Dr. Jekyll)



Of course, both weapons are used by Mr. Hyde to maximum ill effect, as he smiles throughout an evening of drinking, gambling, and female companionship.  Just another night-on-the-town for the nasty star, but a thoroughly convincing performance. Too bad Denholm Elliott shoots him at the end of it.

Unfortunately, for Palance much of his work was done abroad and –how can I say this—on the cheap. But if you like an acting job well done, and portraying a convincing bad guy, keep Jack in mind.  For TCM or late night TV.  And don’t look for Frederick March or Spenser Tracy in the main role.  Just remember Jack.






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Open Your Wallets

Spring training is here again!!  GMs take out their REAL money  this time. Something expensive will be bought, eh, excuse me, someone will be hiredwho will make a  “difference.” With prices like this, no one’s blowing smoke now.  (Or they hope you don’t notice.)

To open the bidding, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado is available.  He hits home runs, drives in other tallies and wins a Gold Glove every year.   In time, he could replace Mike Schmidt as baseball’s best third baseman ever!  But his cost –for you,  is 8 years at a total of $260 million!  A bargain –just listen to his agent.

And that’s not the only valuable player this Spring!  Manny Machado has flown West from his Baltimore career, and landed in Sunny San Diego.  He is a bargain costing only $300 million over a 10 year span.

 The Phillies did not sit back either.  Bryce Harper became their employee for a baker’s dozen of years at a cost of a mere $330 million.  Bryce has been thinking about such a contract since he was a junior in high school.

But wait, folks, what about the man who has been known as the G.O.A .T. since his sophomore year in MLB? The Angels have paid Mike Trout what he’s worth:  12 years for $430 million?! (see below) Great player, fine young man, and I bet he’s good to dogs, too.


Yes, it’s true that big league youngsters have to wait their turn at the pay window.  But the wait looks worth it (say the owners).  As Google told me, Joe DiMaggio (see below, with “friend”)  was the first ballplayer to earn six figures: 100,000, in 1949.



Ted Williams took home $125,000 in 1952.  Willie Mays was worth every penny of his $133,000 salary in 1966.  And, yes, children, Pete Rose signed with the Phillies in 1978 for 3.24 million…for four years!  I bet he hustled to the pay window as quick as he went from first to third on a single.  Whatever happened to ‘ol Pete?




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Ferlinghetti Turns 100!

“Freedom of speech is always under attack

By Fascist mentality, which exists,

In all parts of the world,

Unfortunately.” –Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Lawrence Ferlinghetti (See above) is a poet (think the 1950s Beat generation) and founder (in the 1950s) of San Francisco’s “City Lights” bookstore.  It is one of the country’s best and most famous bookstores –along with NYC’s “Strand” and “Moe’s Books” in Berkeley, California.

Rudyard Kipling: “San Francisco has only one drawback: ‘tis hard to leave.’”  Allen Ginsberg  wrote “Howl” while living in San Francisco.  Jack Kerouac came and went there. His book, “On the Road”, mentioned San Francisco this way: “Everybody wants to get to San Francisco, and what for? In God’s name and under the stars, what for?  For joy, for kicks, for something burning in the night.”

Ferlinghetti was born on 3/24/1919 and will turn 100, in San Francisco at his bookstore, on 3/24/2019. That’s enough verbiage, here is a sample of his writing: “I Am Waiting”, a poem from the book/collection of his poems entitled: “A Coney Island of the Mind”.



I Am Waiting, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti


I am waiting for my case to come up

And I am waiting

For a rebirth of wonder

And I am waiting for someone

To really discover America

And wail

And I am waiting

For the discovery

Of a new symbolic western frontier

And I am waiting

For the American Eagle

To really spread its wings

And straighten up and fly right

And I am waiting

For the Age of Anxiety

To drop dead

And I am waiting

For the war to be fougat

Which will make the world safe

For anarchy

And I am waiting

For the final withering away

Of all governments

And I am perpetually awaiting

A rebirth of wonder.


I am waiting for the Second Coming

And I am waiting

For a religious revival

To sweep thru the state of Arizona

And I am waiting

For the Grapes of Wrath to be stored

And I am waiting

For them to prove

That God is really American

And I am waiting

To see God on television

Piped onto church alters

If only they can find

The right channel

To tune in on

And I am waiting

For the Last Supper to be served again

With a strange new appetizer

And I am perpetually awaiting

A rebirth of wonder.


I am waiting for my number to be called

And I am waiting

For the Salvation Army to take over

And I am waiting

For the meek to be blessed

And inherit the earth

Without taxes

And I am waiting

For forests and animals

To reclaim the earth as theirs

And I am waiting

For a way to be devised

To desire all nationalisms

Without killing anybody

And I am waiting

For linnets and planets to fall like rain

And I am waiting for lovers and weepers

To lie down together again

In a new rebirth of wonder.


I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed

And I am anxiously waiting

For the secret of eternal life to be discovered

By an obscure general practitioner

And I am waiting

For the storms of life

To be over

And I am waiting

To set sail for happiness

And I am waiting

For a reconstructed Mayflower

To reach America

With its picture story and tv rights

Sold in advance to the natives

And I am waiting

For the lost music to sound again

In the Lost Continent

In a new rebirth of wonder.


I am waiting for the day

That maketh all things clear

And I am awaiting retribution

For what America did

To Tom Sawyer

And I am waiting

For Alice in Wonderland

To retransmit to me

Her total dream of innocence

And I am waiting

For Childe Roland to come

To the final darkest tower

And I am waiting

For Aphrodite

To grow live arms

At a final disarmament conference

In a new rebirth of wonder.


I am waiting

To get some intimations

Of immortality

By recollecting my early childhood

And I am waiting

For the green mornings to come again

Youth’s dumb green fields come back again

And I am waiting

For some stains of unpremeditated art

To shake my typewriter

And I am waiting to write

The great indelible poem

And I am waiting

For the last long careless rapture

And I am perpetually waiting

For the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn

To catch each other up at last

And embrace

And I am awaiting

Perpetually and forever

A renaissance of wonder.





















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Some Films’ 25th Anniversary

The website www.IMDB.com recently posted a list of films that were celebrating their Silver anniversary this year (ie, 1994 – 2019).  Here are some comments regarding my favorite films on that list.

Forrest Gump:Received 13 Oscar nominations and won 6, including Best Film and Best Actor (Tom Hanks (see below)  received his 2ndConsecutive Oscar).  Only Spencer Tracy had won 2 in a row.


Pulp Fiction:   Received 7 Oscar nominations; won one = Screenplay for Quentin Tarantiono

 The Shawshank Redemption:  Received 7 nominations (including Best Picture, Best Actor –Morgan Freeman); won 0 Oscars.  Thus was a great film, as viewers know.  See it when you can.

Bullets over Broadway:  Received 7 nominations (eg, Director and screenplay: Woody Allen); won one (Dianne Wiest, Best Supporting Actress).

The Lion King (1994):  Received 4 nominations; 3 for an original Song. Won 2 Oscars (for Best Original Song –“Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, and Best Original Score.) Are you ready for 2019’s remake?  IMDB has a shot for shot comparison of the 2 films’ beginnings.  It’s worth a look.  Yes, James Earl Jones’ voice remains.

Legends of the Fall: Received 3 nominations; got one Oscar: Best Cinematography.  The film and Brad Pitt were in great shape.

Four Weddings and a Funeral:  Received 2 nominations; 0 Oscars.  But audiences saw Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, and their acting careers continued.  For example: Grant in “Love Actually” and MacDowell in “Groundhog Day.”

Speed:  Received 2 nominations and 2 Oscars (for Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing). Have the stars been seen again? (ie, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, remember?)

Ed Wood:  Starring Johnny Depp as film maker “Ed Wood” and Marin Landau. The film received 2 nominations, and got 2 Oscars.  For Best Supporting Actor (Landau, as Bela Lugosi) and Best Makeup (on Mr. Landau I assume).

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  Nominated for and won one Oscar, for Best Costume Design.  A wonderful, quirky film.  Plot: “Two drag performers and a transgender woman travel across the Australian desert to perform their unique style of cabaret.”  The bus in which they travel is named “Priscilla.”  In this film,  Americans see, perhaps for the first time, Guy Pearce  (“L. A. Comfidential”) and  Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix”, as Agent Smith).  Plus, Terence Stamp (as Bernadette) completes the traveling trio and gives a marvelous performance.  If you see him in this role, compare it to his “Mr. Wilson” in “The Limey.”   Fantastic!

Leon: The Professional.  This 1994 film received no Oscar nominations, but I like it. Maybe you do, too.  After all, it introduced us to Natalie Portman.  She learns a hit man’s skills from a favorite actor of mine:  Jean Reno. (see below)   If you’ve seen Mr. Reno with Robert DeNiro in “Ronin”, you saw a fine story, acting, and the best car chases I’ve ever seen.



If you can see Imdb’s 25thanniversary films list, what would be your finest films choices?























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Stand-Up Comedians

The cover story of Time magazine, March 11, 2019 is about Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  One part of the article is entitled “The 5 Funniest Stand-Up Specials Ever.”  Ms. Louis-Dreyfus gives her 5 top choices.  Three of the choices I can easily agree with.  Richard Pryor, Live on the Sunset Strip (1982).  Steve Martin, A Wild and Crazy guy (1978).  For Ellen Degeneres, (see below)a 1996 performance is chosen.  I’d go with a 12/18/18 performance entitled, Relatable. It was her first stand-up performance in 15 years.  And as the title of her performance indicates, she is still indeed Relatable.



I would have to replace two of her choices (ie, Steven Wright and Paula Poundstone) with 2 individuals I wrote about in a different article.  Specifically, George Carlin and Robin Williams.  If you need a specific performance to judge these individuals’, I’d say: “Why?”  You must have seen some of the many television specials by Carlin.   His “7 dirty words” routine is an example of his genius.   Other examples could be:  “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”  And “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”

And Robin Williams is my funniest favorite.  Of his TV performances, my favorite may have to be 1988’s “A Night at the Met.”  His show began with him realizing the 2 huge lights retracting into the ceiling looked like “Imelda Marcos’ earrings.” Williams gives everyone more jokes per minute than anyone.  You get quantity and quality of his work every time.

As a 6thcomedian, I’d chose someone I haven’t seen lately: Bob Newhart.  People familiar with his television shows may forget he started (as a bookkeeper turned) comedian.  My favorite piece of his work was him trying to explain the rules of baseball in a telephone call to someone unfamiliar with the game. I suddenly realized how complicated the game we were born with was to a stranger.

Who would make your “best 5” list?


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Forty Years Later…

I still remember an ad for “Alien” that told us: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”  Yes, it was 1979 when we first met the creature that attached itself to someone and, later, burst out of their body to kill the crew of a space ship.  And it was quite a crew/cast: Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Yaphet Kotto, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, and the lone survivor, Sigourney Weaver (see below).  She has had quite a career, in more “Alien” films, plus other fine performances.  But, as you remember, the story came down to the creature versus Sigourney –a female hero!! In years previous, it would have been John Wayne versus the monster.  Ms. Weaver showed us another hero is possible.


Do you remember how the film closed?  Ripley: “Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew –Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash, and Captain Dallas –are dead.  Cargo and ship destroyed.  I should reach the frontier in about six weeks.  With a little luck, the network will pick me up.  This is Ripley, the last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”  That’s how victory sounded.

And, 35 years later, another woman, Emily Blunt (see below) taught Tom Cruise how to defeat aliens who invaded Earth in the film “Edge of Tomorrow.”  And when Tom hesitated to continue using step 2 of the 3 step process that could bring victory (ie, “Live, Die, Repeat”), Ms. Blunt helped him with a single round. Somewhere, Ms. Weaver was smiling. Watch both films when and where you can.







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