Saturday, January 21, 2012


From “Goodbye, Shirley Temple” by Joseph Mitchell (a short story from Up in the Old Hotel):

The child looked at us and smiled. Peggy said, "Hello there." "Hello," said the child. She started to leave, and then Peggy asked, "What's your name?" The child said, “My name is Margaret” and Peggy said, “Why that’s my name, too.” Estelle lifted the child into the booth and put an arm around her. The child stared across the table at Peggy and said, “What’s that on your face?”

Peggy hesitated a moment. Then she said, “It’s something God put there, Margaret.”

“Won’t it come off?” the child asked.

Estelle interrupted. “Do you go to school?” she asked.

“No,” said the child. She looked at Peggy again and said, “Why did God put it there?”

“Because I was a bad girl,” Peggy said.

“What did you do?”

Peggy asked Estelle for a cigarette. While Peggy was lighting it, the child gazed at her.

“What did you do?” she asked again.

“I shot off my father’s head and cut out his heart and ate it,” Peggy said.

From The Seventh Seal, written and directed by Ingmar Bergman:

The Knight (Max von Sydow):

"What will become of us who want to believe but cannot?
And what of those we neither will nor can believe?
Why can I not kill off this God within me?
Why must he live on inside me in this painful, humiliating way? When I want to tear him out of my heart?...
Why does he remain a mocking reality that I cannot shake off?"...

From “A Good Appetite,” by A.J. Liebling, one of his best. I found it this time in Just Enough Liebling: Classic Work by the Legendary New Yorker Writer:

The wine was a thin rosé in an Art Nouveau bottle with a label that was a triumph of lithography; it had spires and monks and troubadours and blondes with wimples on it, and the name of the cru was spelled out in letters with Gothic curlicues and pennons. The name was something like Château Guillame d’Aquitaine, grand vin.

“What a madly gay little wine, my dear!” M. Cliquot said, repressing, but not soon enough, a grimace of pain..

“One would say a Tavel of a good year,” I cried, “if one were a complete bloody fool.” I did not say the second clause aloud.

My old friend looked at me with new respect. He was discovering in me a capacity for hypocrisy that he had never credited me with before.

The main course was a shoulder of mutton with white beans—the poor relation of a gigot, and an excellent dish in its way, when not too dry. This was.

For the second wine, the man from the Midi proudly produced a red, in a bottle without a label, which he offered to M. Cliquot with the air of a tomcat bringing a field mouse to its master’s feet. “Tell me what you think of this,” he said as he filled the champagne man’s glass.

M. Cliquot—a veteran of such challenges, I could well imagine—held the glass against the light, dramatically inhaled the bouquet, and then drank, after a slight stiffening of the features that indicated to me that he knew what he was in for. Having emptied the glass, he deliberated.

“It has a lovely color,” he said.

“But what is it? What is it?” the man from the Midi insisted.

“There are things about it that remind me of a Beaujolais,” M. Cliquot said (he must have meant that it was wet), “but on the whole I should compare it to a Bordeaux (without doubt unfavorably)"...


  1. Wow, someone else who's seen the Seventh Seal!

  2. I saw it in the seminary in 1961; that makes three of us !


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