Want a Tip? Stay Out of Show Business.

Vaudeville MagicianBREAKING INTO THE VAUDEVILLE GAME

by David J. Lustig

(Knowledge and  Inside Dope Which Will Aid the Amateur To Become  a Vaudeville Artiste.)

I have received numerous letters from people in all walks of life asking me how one goes about it when they wish to adopt the vaudeville stage as a means of livelihood.

Many I have answered personally but not having the time to write all who I have received inquiries from, my publisher has requested me to write something that may prove of value to the clever amateur who has decided to “break into vaudeville” with an act.

No matter whether you wish to become a professional magical entertainer, ventriloquist or present a sketch, playlet or monologue on the vaudeville stage there are certain things you should know before you start out trying to get a vaudeville agent to handle (book) your act.

First . . . . . . it is advisable for you to have an act arranged by someone who makes a specialty of this sort of thing as he, with plenty of experience in back of him, knows about what a vaudeville manager, agent and audience wishes.

There are magic acts in vaudeville who struggle along from year to year and then again the same applies to many other variety acts now appearing on the vaudeville stage, some delighting, others tiring vaudeville audiences who as a general run are the most exacting audiences of today. This is due to the fact that patrons of vaudeville theatres see so many different acts a year that they soon learn to appreciate good work and have little, if any, sympathy with mediocre turns.

True . . . . in many theatres we see acts which are termed by “gallery gods” putrid. When you see an act you think is very bad look at things from their standpoint a bit and figure out whether it is the performers themselves, their vehicle or conditions under which the are working. The layman cannot appreciate the many difficulties under which at times vaudevillians work.

We have all seen acts with clever performers who have a worthless sketch or playlet and thus their efforts are completely “left in the shade.”

The first thing the amateur must consider when he wishes to become a vaudevillian is he must have the proper act . . . . no matter of what sort. . . . to enable himself to do that which you can do the best.

No matter what kind of an act you wish to offer. . . .be it a crystal gazing, magical, comedy or dramatic playlet, monologue or patter act. . . . consult someone who understands this sort of work. It will pay you better in the end to have an act prepared to suit your individual talent.

Some actors think they can write their own material and that it is far better than a script they may have written by a specialist in this line. This may be true at times but very seldom.

Actors sometimes think they know it all and the writer of stage material finds this type to be so charged with “temperament” that they sidetrack them whenever they can. And who can blame them? There is few ailments known to the human body that can be classed much worse than “artistic temperament” and “swellheaditis.”

Suppose you are convinced you have marked ability along certain lines of entertaining . . . . the first thing to do is to “frame” up an act that runs from say twelve to twenty minutes. Your act, specialty or turn, must be entertainment full of life and be able to hold the attention of a blasé vaudeville audience all the time you are on the stage. It is certain to bore an audience and slangly speaking “get their goats” if you insist on stalling or posing.

If you have twenty-two minutes of material cut out some of your stuff and leave only the “meat” of the act in. Should it be a magic act cut the “stalling” and posing of yourself or your assistants and work fast and aim to work every trick you do up to a climax which will leave them guessing and this will bring forth the applause.

Should you have ten tricks on your program, after you break in the act, watch closely and cut out two or three effects keeping in only the effects that seem to you, judging from the appreciation of the audiences, worth while.

Whatever you do, in a magic act, don’t try to convince an audience you are clever. I have seen a bungling magician, who was a clever comedian, go over far better than a clever sleight of hand artiste. Managers and agents will tell you the same thing.

An audience wants to be entertained and if the performer shows them he is an entertainer they are satisfied and vote the act, by their appreciative applause, a hit.

To become a success in the vaudeville field one must have an act that is just a little better than what audiences have always accepted as the best. Get it?

Unlimited rehearsing is necessary before an act is even tried out before an agent. Agents, at times, are a fussy lot and seldom, if ever, admit to a performer his act is good. Most agents are self-styled judges of acts. Some really are real judges . . . . others should be plumbers!

And the same thing, in a different light, applies to performers who appear in vaudeville. The vaudeville stage is infested and over-flooded by third rate, mediocre acts of every description. Careful managers try to book recognized turns or acts they have seen themselves for their theatres but recognized turns and really good new acts are kept busy and their salaries are, most times, far beyond the pocketbook of the average vaudeville theatre manager.

After you have your act well rehearsed and fitted up to please the eye (a “flash or sight act,” as well dressed acts are called . . . .  that is acts with appropriate scenery and other paraphernalia) you will have to “try-out” the turn before an audience and several agents. The agents will pass judgment on the turn and will see if the act can be used by them. Many acts never go beyond the try-out stage.

Should your act receive a few weeks booking or routing over a circuit at a price . . . . consider yourself in luck and do all you can  while playing to further improve your act so other time or bookings will be forthcoming.

Get all the agents, representing the different vaudeville booking agencies, you can to witness your act when trying out and in the larger cities where agencies are located, where you may be playing. Get your act known. Advertise a bit . . . . publicity will do you a lot of good . . . . never any harm.

Some agents will want you to go over their “time” at a small salary. Watch your step. It is all well and good to work your act for a couple of weeks to break in at a salary about covering expenses but after the “break-in” period don’t ask a million dollars for an act you know very well is worth a couple of hundred but make a reasonable price and hold out for that price. What has hurt the business is acts who needed money and work for almost anything so long as they keep working. This sort of thing may look fairly well on the face of the stories highly colored which are told by so-called performers but when a man’s pocketbook becomes strained his digestion and liver as well as disposition become badly out of tune.

If you meet a vaudevillian and he tells you he “knocks ’em dead” or “off their seats” wherever he plays and then tells you he has a four year route don’t hesitate but GIVE HIM THE AIR!!

To secure a try-out either call personally (which is best if you can be ushered into the presence of His Highness the Agent) on the man you think is best suited to handle your act or write him requesting an interview and if the interview is not forthcoming later follow up by requesting a chance to show him your act.

Your stationary (letterhead and circulars) must be attractive and well printed otherwise they will receive little, if any, consideration.

And don’t get the idea that the life of an actor is all roses.

Acting, in no matter what line you choose, is hard work and to get a real foothold on the ladder of success in any line you must be prepared to work hard, industriously and with the aim of becoming a real success, in view.

Don’t lose courage and don’t lay down at the first disappointment you receive. Up and at it will win the game. Rome wasn’t built overnight and our foremost vaudeville stars battled continually along the hard road to success which is not lined with roses but heartaches.

The game is worth while once you get a good foothold and to attain that foothold is all up to you.

To successfully present and “put across” a magic act you must be both a clever showman and a clever exponent of conjuring. To quote an old, very-much used saying: “It isn’t so much what you do as how you do it.” This holds true in any sort of entertaining. While on the stage you must be an actor at all times whether you are enacting the role of a “nutt” or a “straight” entertainer.

Develop your talent no matter what line of entertaining you chose. When you can do a few tricks and mystify the folks at home or the friends you may meet at a party don’t get the idea into your head you are ready to adopt the stage as a profession. Remember your friends ARE your friends and they will do or say nothing which will hurt your feelings but a vaudeville audience will not
spare your feelings any more than you in your chatter may have spared the feelings (could they have overheard you) of some of the acts you may have witnessed.

Acts carrying their own scenery usually get more money than those depending on “house stuff.” Dress your act up well. Proper hangings enhance the value of an act in the eyes of an audience. Of course the way you dress your act is all up to you and your pocketbook. Use judgment and horse sense in everything.

No matter what folks may say an actor will tell you it requires far more ability to walk out in “one” (before a house drop) and put over an entertaining act than it does to have a full stage setting with all necessary props and other paraphernalia. By this I do not mean you don’t need talent to put a richly fitted-up act across. You need ability at all times and the more ability and business knowledge you have in show business the more chance of success you will have.

Don’t copy the other fellow’s chatter or his tricks. If you work a sketch don’t plagiarize the other fellow’s lines or bits of business.  What he may put over to big returns you may fall down hard on.

It isn’t what the other fellow “pulls” in his patter but the manner in which he says it. What is one man’s bread is the other fellow’s poison.

Avoid being a “hammer artist” (knocker). If you think the other fellow isn’t any good and his efforts are nil forget it. You may not think he is good and a thousand others may vote him the cleverest ever.

In a magic turn for vaudeville rapid fire stuff is what the public demands. They want something doing every minute. A vaudeville audience loses interest when a performer walks off to “load” up for another trick. If you must make an exit after an effect to obtain a “load” rehearse your act so your assistant can arrange tables or something of this sort to kill the wait. The best magical entertainers remain on the stage from the rise to the fall of the curtain.

After your act is ready to show an agent . . . . . . go to some reliable photographer and have some photographs taken of your complete act (if you have a stage setting) and some of yourself and your assistants. While in vaudeville I used only photographs of my hands doing various stunts. Whatever you do don’t have photos taken of your hands exposing a palmed coin or billiard ball. The public as a general run have become too familiar with “palms” and “passes” thanks to the mediocre so-called magician who bungles his sleights so frequently that his efforts may fool himself but not his audience.

Dress well on and off the stage and act the part of a gentleman at all times. Two-thirds of the stories told of the profession are of the cock-and-bull variety and you will find just as many ladies and gentlemen behind the footlights as before them.

Say you have all the scenery and properties needed in your act your assistants properly rehearsed, and your own end to your satisfaction . . . . . . obtain a number of engagements to get yourself and your people used to an audience as well as in this way getting things to run a bit smoother. Do this before you attempt to secure a professional try-out. You will be glad you heeded this advice when the try-out night takes place. Familiarize yourself to working before an audience and if you become used to large gatherings and at all times endeavor to practice and further perfect yourself in your work you
will enjoy performing. Keep your wits about you at all times and should something unforeseen occur don’t mar the effect by quitting cold but finish it in some way you think best. Many things happen to the best of us when before an audience and when something does happen it usually is something you have never thought would take place.

Nerve isn’t the main standby of the vaudevillian. Many acts have unlimited nerve and “crust” and little else. This is the sort who usually end their professional engagements at the end of a season (if they last that long) owing themselves money.

Use the brains God gave you at all times. Plug hard and boost yourself to the very best of your ability along the hard road of success.


From Lustig, David. J. La Vellma’s Vaudeville Budget for Magicians, Mind Readers and Ventriloquists R. W. Doidge, 1921 pages 52-56.


David Lustig was born on September 4th, 1893.  He launched his vaudeville career in 1910 at the age of 17 as a magician using the stage name “La Vellma.” In the 1920s he performed in vaudeville as a magician, mentalist, and ventriloquist. He worked as a theater manager, and as a newspaper theater critic. He wrote and directed silent films. From the late ’20s he was a technical adviser to mentalist Joseph Dunninger, devising many of the “tests” that Dunninger used on radio and TV shows.

Later in his life Lustig worked as a publicity specialist for Columbia Pictures, setting up tours and interviews for their movie stars.

He was elected by the Society of American Magicians National Council to the  SAM Hall of Fame.

Lustig was a member of the Society of American Magicians, the National Conjuror’s Association, and the National Vaudeville Artist’s Club.

He died on September 30th, 1977, at the age of 84.


Notes:

To “sidetrack” something is a term that comes from railroading.  This refers to switching a lower priority train onto a piece of track alongside the main tracks, there to wait while the express thunders down the main line, bypassing it.

To give someone “the air” is to reject, to brush off; to break off relations.

A “nutt” is a comic or zany.

A “turn” is the act presented on stage, generally from seven to twenty minutes, most frequently ten to fifteen minutes.

“Time”  is performing in a theater or on a circuit.  Thus, someone appearing on the Orpheum circuit would be “keeping Orpheum time.”  Someone booked by the Theater Owners Booking Association would be “keeping Toby time.”

“In one” means performing on the apron in front of the house curtain.  Vaudeville featured continuous entertainment.  While the curtains were closed for scenery changes, a performer would come out to take their turn “in one” and deliver a monologue, juggle, do card tricks, or otherwise keep the show going.  “In two” meant a half stage.  “In three” was a three-quarter stage, while “in four” meant the full stage.


The same applies to writing:  Write, finish what you started, re-write, polish.   Cut out what doesn’t work.  Cut out the padding.  Then show your work to trusted beta-readers.  After you get their input, rewrite again.  Then, and only then, show it to agents.  No one promises you success and fame; it’s hard work.  But don’t undersell yourself either.  Remember, first and always, you’re an entertainer.

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Where I’ll Be This Weekend

We’re talking the 18th and 19th of May.

I’ll be in Fremont, NH, at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, doing magic.

Come find me, say “Amaze me!” and I’ll do my best.  Remember the magic words: Hey, Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!

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A Complete Silk Act

Stillwell's Handkerchief Manipulation ActOne of the perennial topics in these parts goes something like this: “I’ve signed up for a talent show. What should I do?”

Let me make a suggestion, under the rubric “everything old is new again.”

In Jean Hugard‘s Silken Sorcery (1937), the last chapter describes the Stillwell Silk Act. Here’s what Hugard says:

CHAPTER XII

THE STILLWELL SILK ACT

The production of silks from a handkerchief ball after the manner adopted by George Stillwell, who was the first magician to present a complete silk act in vaudeville, is undoubtedly the most artistic method yet devised. Mr. Stillwell issued a pamphlet explaining his routine but this has long been out of print and is now almost unobtainable. I will devote my last chapter to an explanation of the act as I saw it presented by Mr. Stillwell himself. I am told that he joined the ranks of other great magicians in the Halls of Valhalla several years ago.

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet and on-line archives, that pamphlet that Hugard called “almost unobtainable” is easily obtained by anyone who cares to look for it.  There one will discover the

Full and Complete

Exposé, and Explanation

of the

Method of Working

STILLWELL’S

HANDKERCHIEF MANIPULATION ACT

AS PRESENTED TO

Messrs. HAMLEY BROS, Ltd.,
by the Originator and Inventor,
Mr. GEORGE STILLWELL,
and performed by him

in all the principal Theatres and Music Hails
in U.S.A. and Europe.


ILLUSTRATED


In short: Stillwell, George. Stillwell’s Handkerchief Manipulation Act (Illustrated) Hamley Brothers, Ltd. 1902

The instruction in Stillwell’s original pamphlet is far clearer and more complete than Hugard’s synopsis, and includes notes on how to manufacture the various gimmicks and fakes needed.  Hugard’s version is streamlined, and assumes the performer is wearing a three-piece suit.  Stillwell’s original is fuller, and assumes the performer is wearing formal evening wear with a tailcoat.

If you need a fully worked-out act, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, I can think of none finer (and it isn’t one that everyone else is doing). I doubt that anyone has performed Stillwell’s routine in a century.

Here are some links to places where you can purchase some of the needed props (I have no financial stake in any of these, BTW):

Stillwell hank balls.

Silks (from Abbott’s)

Production Flag Staff

Other stuff you’ll need to look around, or go all arts-and-crafts.

This is how Hugard ended his chapter on the Stillwell Handkerchief Manipulation Act:

Stillwell’s act was successful, partly on account of its novelty, but mainly because he had woven the necessary moves for getting possession of the loads and disposing of the balls, etc., into a routine of natural movements.

That says it all.

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Nowhere Near Fun

Madeleine Robins

I remember the Big Three of Childhood Diseases because I had all of them. I am of that vintage where I was young enough to be vaccinated against smallpox and polio (for which I am abundantly grateful, let me tell you). But I had mumps (on at least one side), and rubella, (and chicken pox, the also-ran of childhood diseases), and measles.

My memories of chicken pox involve feeling ill on the day I was supposed to go to the Zoo with my best friend, and lying on the hall floor in our apartment swaddled in my quilt, desperately trying to get the energy to leap up and proclaim myself ready to go. I wasn’t and I didn’t. Beyond that, my memory extends to oatmeal baths (intended to soothe the itch, which they really didn’t) and a coloring book about brides, which perpexed me.

My only recollection of mumps–aside from…

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That’s Entertainment!

From Miscellaneous Handkerchief Tricks That You Can Do : Including a fifteen minute act “The Silky Slicker” by George De Lawrence, published by Gerald Heaney, Berlin, Wisconsin, 1921.  Pages 32-33.


You absolutely cannot succeed in these modern days of “jazz” and “goloshes” by merely being a magician; you must be an entertainer; therefore I have furnished patter, some of which has stood the test and is absolutely dependable, based on actual experience.

I am going to take up a minute or two of your time and a little space to illustrate this fact, and it is fact that keeps many a magician out of work, and those playing small time from getting onto the “two-a-day.” This applies equally as well in regard to the semi-professional entertainer and club worker.

Mr. Geo. W. Adams, for thirty years on the stage as a comedian, comedy juggler, etc., who is deeply interested in magic as a hobby, while discussing magicians pro and con, made a remark along these lines:
Vaudeville Magician Jack Gwynne

“A Magician, if he be the cleverest in the world, can not succeed on the American vaudeville stage unless he is capable of entertaining his audience. If he is a comedian so much the better.”

A man in the business thirty years, I believe you will agree with me, knows pretty near what the public desires, and if you cannot fulfill these desires, you will not get ahead.

Jud Cole, who is well known to magical enthusiasts, and whose chief stock in trade is his pleasing personality and witty “patter,” was telling me some of his experiences just as this manuscript was drawing to a close.

While in New York City one of the largest Keith Agents “caught” his act. In talking with this gentleman afterwards, the conversation was something along these lines:

The agent asked Mr. Cole to come up to his office. Jud asked him how he liked the act. The reply was, “Very good.” Mr. Cole then asked him how he liked the tricks. The agent’s reply was to the effect that they were all right. After further conversation Jud asked him point blank about a certain trick. The agent replied that he had forgotten what he did; in fact, he could not recall one trick. Here is the information as handed out by one of Broadway’s largest agents:

“In big time, it does not matter what you do. If you look neat, have a good voice and amuse the people, that is all that is required.”

Just look at the magic acts on Big Time—read this statement over, then cut it out and paste it in your hat.


A few notes:  The “small time” (as in “He’s strictly a small-timer”) was the lowest rung of the vaudeville ladder, playing small towns, perhaps in makeshift venues, continuous performances, for little money.  Next up was the “medium time,” the “two-a-day” shows that played in actual theaters.  As the name implies, acts would only go on twice a day. Then there was the Big Time, which played major cities in luxurious theaters, patronized by the middle and upper-middle class, where performers could earn thousands a week.  The biggest of the Big Time theaters was the Palace in New York City, flagship of the Keith-Albee circuit, at the corner of Broadway and 47th Street.

The Keith (later Keith-Albee) circuit was one of the major vaudeville circuits.  hiring acts to appear in the various Keith theaters.  Other circuits included the Orpheum, Pantages, and Dudley.  An act that was picked up by a circuit could expect to be on the road, moving from theater to theater, for 40+ weeks a year.  Keith-Albee and Orpheum eventually merged, and morphed into RKO Pictures, which is with us today.

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On Villainy

The seven deadly sins are Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth.

For your villains, pick any two. For your heros, pick one.

The seven splendid virtues are Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Fortitude, Faith, Hope, and Charity.

For your heros, pick any two. For your villains, pick one.

Dr. Doyle's Blog

I’ve written here before about the necessity — in my opinion — of making one’s villains well-rounded characters and not merely evil mustache-twirling sockpuppets. By which I mean granting them their virtues as well as their vices, and giving them friends as well as enemies, and generally treating them with a certain amount of respect even as they go forth to meet their richly deserved ends at the hands of the protagonist of the tale.

I don’t know if what I’m encountering a lot of lately is the start of a disturbing new trend, or just the result of seeing a lot of plain old-fashioned bad writing and worse criticism . . . but readers and writers both seem to be getting more into villains who are evil all the way through, from the flaky top crust of their characterization down to the soggy underbaked bottom. Anything in the line…

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In Which I Visit a Museum

And there see a submarine.

Some years ago, for reasons that matter not to our story, I was driving around northern New Jersey when I saw something by the side of the road.  “By golly,” I said, “that looks like a Holland submarine!”  I pulled over and walked to it.  It was!  Holland boat #2, Fenian Ram.  The precursor of all modern submarines.  In the US Navy, USS Holland (AKA Holland boat #6) was SS-1.

I never saw it again though I looked for it every time I passed through the region.  Then, thanks to the Miracle of the Internet, I decided to search for it and to my joy found that it was now in a more congenial place than rusting away by roadside: Fenian Ram was now an exhibit at the Paterson Museum.

Then I had to wait the opportunity to visit: I’m not in the Greater New York area all that often any more.  So when Doyle and I decided to go to Heliosphere, a plan came together.  Amidst other running-around, a visit to Paterson!

Outside the Paterson Museum

So on Friday last I punched the address (2 Market Street, Paterson, New Jersey) into the naviguesser, and we set off.  After circling the block by Paterson Great Falls (waterpower — the key to America’s early industrial economy!), we came to the site. The museum is located in an old locomotive engine assembly plant, where an old locomotive in the parking lot (“Old 299,” with a surprising Panamanian connection!) was the first clue that we’d come to the right place.

Virtue was rewarded as we found a parking space in the lot right away.  A two buck donation at the door, and we were in!   Various exhibits ranged before us, including Native American, silk production, nursing, Colt firearms, Lou Costello, fire fighting apparatus, and other Patersonian stuff, until, at the far end of one wing, there it was: Fenian Ram.

Fenian Ram

The Ram got its name from the Fenian Brotherhood, which had financed Holland’s experiments.   Holland had noticed that all the navies of the world were going to ironclads after the battle in Hampton Roads back in 1862.  He figured that the way to attack ironclads would be from beneath the sea (a conclusion that the US Navy also reached at the time, and addressed with the building of the AlligatorAlligator, although never commissioned, and never in combat, was later commanded by LT Thomas Selfridge, Jr., a survivor of CSS Virginia‘s attack on USS Cumberland in Hampton Roads ).

In any case, despite the name,  Fenian Ram was not intended to ram its targets: it was armed with a nine-inch dynamite gun (the years immediately post-Civil-War were great ones for naval innovation).  Fenian Ram never operated as the Fenians intended, to destroy the Royal Navy and free Ireland.  Rather than pay for it, they hijacked it one night, then made an important discovery: none of them knew how to operate it, and Holland refused to tell them.  So the Ram remained in the USA, passing from hither to yon, then back to its birthplace in New Jersey.

Holland boat #1

Also in the museum, beside Fenian Ram, is Holland boat #1, which he built as proof-of-concept.  When he was done with it, Holland removed everything salvageable and scuttled his boat #1 in the Passaic River.  Holland boat #1 was raised in 1927, at which time, allegedly, a local sandwich shop operator renamed his grinders  “submarine sandwiches,” and the name stuck.

 

 

 

 

We left the museum, and continued on our Major André tour, of which more in a later post.

Fenian Ram with some very nice radio-controlled ship-and-sub scale models

Fenian Ram stern

Fenian Ram bow.

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Red Mike at the Movies: Hereditary

Hereditary Movie Poster So this was one of a couple of movies I’d intended to see last year.

For reasons I’ll not go into here I watched a lot of movies in theaters last year.  And I will, eventually, review them all.  But for right now, I saw the trailer for this one, but didn’t see it (despite checking on-line to find out if there was anywhere in the state of New Hampshire where it was showing).

Well, what with this and that, even after it came out on video last fall I didn’t get around to seeing it until just now.  Which means that I could now read the reviews of the movie.  (Under the rules of The Movie Game I’m not allowed to read reviews until after I’ve seen the show.)

Imagine my surprise on learning how many critics loved the movie.

Here’s my take on this film:

  • Unreliable narrator is unreliable.
  • This is why IEA* was invented.
  • 9-1-1 is there for a reason.

Also, there was an event early on in the film (by “early on” I mean an hour in — this was one long puppy) which desuspended my disbelief in a big way.

*Involuntary Emergency Admission

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

When you have a traumatic decapitation by smacking your head into a phone pole at 80 mph, you don’t get a nice, discrete, round, still-recognizable head lying by the side of the road. You get a debris field covering about ninety square feet with no bit bigger than about a half-inch on a side.  Ask me how I know.  Or, better still, don’t.

END SPOILER END SPOILER END SPOILER

So, what we get is a family drama requiring you to spend two hours with four people who are so basically unpleasant that you wouldn’t want to spend five minutes with them.  Yes, mental health is a serious problem.  Yes, mental health is the thing we do worst in modern medicine.  But I’m not sure this is the way to bring it to the public consciousness.

Let’s see: what did I like?  The miniature rooms were wonderful.  I looked through the credits to see if the model maker had a credit (the answer is yes, three people).  Also, the husband, Steve (played by Gabriel Byrne), did a great job of portraying the ground-down look of someone living with a chronically-ill person.

Final score:  I put this one in the same bucket as Cabin Fever.  The bucket labeled “nice try.”

 

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Martin Van of Kinderhook

Today is the first day of our ramble down to New York for Heliosphere.  So, en passant, we visited Lindenwald, Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook, NY.  Van Buren had  been Jackson’s Vice President; he went on to a term of his own in 1836.  The Little Magician was the first US president who had no military experience, and he is so far the only US president who didn’t speak English as his native tongue (he spoke Dutch).

Lindenwald Gatehouse Foundation

Lindenwald Gatehouse Foundation

Lindenwald, Martin Van Buren's home in Kinderhook.

Lindenwald, Martin Van Buren’s home in Kinderhook.

As people who followed the Whig songbook posts I put up in 2016 will recall, Van Buren was the Whigs’ bête noire in 1844 (until he lost the nomination on the 9th ballot to James K. Polk).  Van Buren went on to a third-party run in 1848 on the Free Soil ticket, a move that split the Democratic vote and put the buffoonish Zachary Taylor into the White House.

 

So there I stood on a chilly April afternoon and sang a Van Buren song from 1840:

Rockabye baby, daddy’s a Whig,
When he comes home hard cider he’ll swig.
When he has swug he’ll fall in a stew,
And down will come Tyler and Tippecanoe.

To beguile the tedium of the journey we listened to some of The Bowery Boys’ podcasts on New York history.

Breakfast was at the Red Arrow Diner in Concord, NH.   Dinner was at Amici’s in Nyack, a place that looks like a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint between a dry cleaner and the Off-Track Betting parlor in a strip mall, which it is, but also has a very nice full Italian restaurant in the back room.

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It’s That Time Again

Dr. Doyle's Blog

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Yes, it’s time for my annual Springtime Services Sale!

From now through April 21, 2019 (that’s Easter Sunday, for those of you who celebrate), all edits on novel-length manuscripts will be 30% off the regular price. You can purchase an edit now to be redeemed at a later date of your choice, or you can buy an edit for a friend as a gift.

For more information, you can go to my about page.

My winter electric bill will thank you.

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