HLS Letters

The Only Way To Deal With Thomas

  • November 18, 1988

HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

Plaza Azul Productions Incorporated
2954 Plaza Azul
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
~
Offices Of The President and C.E.O.
(505) 473-1954

November 18, 1988

Dear Tommy,

Here is a scheme that is practically guaranteed to drive you crazy.  What I am trying to do is see how much information I can cram into the confines of a single page, using Condensed typeface and three columns.

Thanks for the tip about formatting for professional appearance.  Next time I go two-column, I will heed your advice.

YOUR ADVICE TO ME:

I will also heed your advice about attempting any further communicating with the Spirit of Yeffee Kimball.  I have enough trouble as it is, without having a tough and demanding babe, especially of the Native American persuasion, involved in my life.  I will leave her to her mystical rites up yonder in the mountains, and go about my business, glancing now and then over my shoulder.  Thanks for the tip about Yeffe.

MY ADVICE TO YOU:

The only way to deal with Thomas is to buy him a copy of “Joe Miller’s Joke Book,” tell him to memorize it, and then tell him that if he fails to do so, he won’t get a pony for his tenth birthday.  The only way to deal with a smart-ass kid is with a credible threat, usually the threat of withholding something avidly sought and the subject of broad hints.  Maybe a pony isn’t it — think of something you can withhold.  He has probably dropped plenty of hints, being a smart-ass kid and a Harvey clone.  I remember how you used to scatter hints all over the place, starting about six weeks before Christmas, and how I was always tripping over them.  I never picked up on a single one of them.

SOFTWARE:

Dobbs uses WordPerfect, and he has offered to make me a bootleg copy of it for my use.  I have declined, suspecting that — in a spirit of fun, you understand; not maliciously — he might infect it with a virus, thus causing me to lose my last five years of check registers.  Nobody puts anything over on Howard, not even in a spirit of fun.

I use a system called “T/Master,” and it suits my needs except that it won’t due italics or subscripts or superscripts.  So, if I want to tell you that the temperature outside is 19 degrees F., I have to spell out “degrees” because that little “0” doesn’t work.  And if I want to tell you that it is fucking cold, I have to use underlining where I would prefer italics for emphasis.  Doubtless there is some solution to this problem, but I haven’t found it.  If I want to tell you that I just had a drink of Aitch-Two-Oh, I have to say “water,” because I can’t do subscripts.  Maybe it’s time to upgrade to WordPerfect or WordStar.  We’ll see.

EVERY BIT OF THIS SPACE GOT WASTED! IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FILLED WITH TWO COLUMNS OF DEATHLESS PROSE! HAVE YOU BEEN STICKING PINS INTO MY SOFTWARE?

Well, Tommy, as you can see, my scheme didn’t work.  When I try to create a Zone, it turns our that the fucking Zone is already highlighted, because the typeface I have chosen highlights everything on the screen, and so I can’t highlight the Zone which is what is supposed to happen when I create a Zone.  Got that?  Two columns in 10 CPI is all I seem to be able to do.  Drat!  Humbug!  Pshaw!

YOUR RESUME:

I regret any inconvenience you may have been caused by being confronted with the facts.  My only concern was with historical accuracy, not with promotional literature.  You will find, though, that in the long run, honesty is the best policy.  Outright lies or other misrepresentations of the literal truth have a way of surfacing when one least expects them and when one is least prepared to deal with them.  And, a half-page resume is more likely to be read by a busy Personnel Director than is one that runs on endlessly.  And an ingenue (note correct spelling) to your credits, by all means.  But stop pretending you made me what I am today.

YOUR EXAMPLE:

As for getting myself a young wife, I must reject the suggestion out of hand.  It seems to have worked out splendidly for you, and you have my greatest admiration and my congratulations.  But I am made of sterner stuff.  I value my privacy and solitude too much to have them jarred by a whining wimpy wheedling wife, wondering aloud why I don’t earn a decent living at a decent job.  Many years ago, I did what you propose I do now, and you see what that got me.  A daughter who is suing me.  An ex-spouse who is suing me.  Thanks, but no thanks.  Suppose I were to “make a son?”  Based on my past experience, I can predict that he would turn on me as his half-sister has.  Thanks again, but no thanks.

THE WICKED STAGE:

Thanks for the “DROOD” programme.  I especially enjoyed the back cover.  If you never need a lawyer, you now have one.

It would appear to me, an outsider, that you, Anne and Thomas are the only citizens of Stamford who were not involved one way or another with the production.  And speaking of the production, I note that the Production Staff includes no ushers.  The MacDonalds, Sally and Fred, took the tickets, but who seated the patrons?  The MacDonalds?  The patrons themselves?  Was it “open seating,” as at a rock concert in Cincinnati some years ago when eleven people were trampled to death is the crush to get down front?  Were you the only audience?  You leave so much unsaid!

As for “THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER,” it is shaping up nicely, thanks.  Next week, we go into serious, no-nonsense, high-gear, balls-out rehearsals.  No more clowning around in the dressing room, no more smoking in the wings, no more giggling over blown cues, no more shouting “LINE!” when you go dead, no more fun until opening night, which is now less than two weeks off.  I am starting to get sweaty palms.  I always do.  Mark of a true artist, and something you never taught me.

I got up this morning to let my cat out, and he and I discovered that about eight inches of snow had fallen during the night.  He refuses to set foot in it, but he will sit in it.  He got as far as the north edge of the front porch, took a few tentative steps, sat down, turned around, and said to me: “You old fart!  What is this?  Some kind of practical joke?”  I explained that I was sound asleep when all this took place and that he could hardly blame me.  He blames me just the same.

Interesting discovery, to be shared soon with the veterinary medical community: Snow causes constipation in cats that reject litter boxes.  I have that sort of cat sharing my home.

He can stay indoors if he likes, but I have to go out in the weather because I am about to run out of vodka and cigarettes and burritos, all of which are staples in my larder.

JEANNE’S HEALTH:

Right off the bat in your latest letter, you urged me to read the instruction manual (reference: word-processing software).  Well, Tommy, perhaps you need to read your Effigy Owner’s Handbook.  You are not doing something right.  While your little dollie is stuck full of pins and is disintegrating, Jeanne grows more robust day by day.  Maybe you have the Dorian Gray Picture Book.  Better check.  Voodoo is not working.

THE BUSH TRANSITION:

Whatever happened to prayer in schools, the pledge of allegiance, a military establishment second to none, the war on drugs, the war on crime, an end to furloughs for convicted murderers and rapists, Boston Harbor, toxic waste, a gentler America, the death penalty, and a Thousand Points of Light?  The burning issues on which the Presidential election was decided by about half the eligible voters in this great democracy?  They seem to have been brushed aside.  The top priorities of the incoming Administration are (1) The National Dept and (2) The Trade Deficit, neither of which was mentioned by either candidate or by the media during the campaign.  Well, look at it this way: Only half the voters were taken in by this insult to their intelligence, and only half of them fell for the Bush Scam.

If George thinks he has some sort of mandate, somebody should remind him that three-fourths of the eligible voters voted against him or abstained.  Scarcely a mandate.

End of Civics Lesson.  And end of this letter.

Sincerely,
John K. Herzog
President and C.E.O.
a/k/a Howard

Post Script: Kindly explain: Fidelity Chemical Products Corporation.

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