David Bruce: Anecdotes About Fat People

Pope John XXIII was a humble man and disliked being carried in the “Sedia Gestatoria,” the sedan chair with which several men carried the Pope through great public gatherings. Besides humility, Holy Father disliked the “Sedia Gestatoria” for another reason. After making one of his first trips in it, he got down and said, “The motion of that rocking chair makes me dizzy.” Soon after his election, Pope John XXIII, who was a heavy man, inquired about the wages of the men who carried the “Sedia Gestatoria.” When asked why he was concerned about such a small matter, he replied, “They should receive a bonus to compensate them for the increase in papal weight.”

Opera singer Ian Wallace recalls the time when a very heavy Italian soprano played the part of Gilda in “Rigoletto.” In this opera, Gilda is murdered, then carried off in a sack by the character Sparafucile. Unfortunately, the singer playing Sparafucile was unable to lift the singer playing Gilda, so the opera director invented three new characters — burly men all — to help Sparafucile lift and carry Gilda off the stage. (This story may be why Sir Rudolf Bing once wrote, “The greatest singers in the world don’t fit easily into blue jeans.”)

Operatic tenor Leo Slezak was a big man — six-foot-four and 300 pounds. Once, while singing the role of Adolar in Weber’s “Euryanthe,” he accidentally stepped on a female singer’s toes. She had to stay in bed for a month and lost all the toenails on one foot. Whenever he saw the singer, Ms. Ludmilla, afterward, she always took one step backward, then said, “Take my soul, my life, my all — but for God’s sake take care not to tread on my toes, dear Adolar!”

British character actress Margaret Rutherford had clout as a result of becoming internationally famous in movies such as “Blithe Spirit.” Whenever she made a movie, filming stopped at 11 a.m. and at 3:30 p.m. so that she could have her snack — hot milk and buttered cookies. According to “Time” magazine, Ms. Rutherford — a heavy woman — “needs the sustenance as much as a lush needs booze.”

G.K. Chesterton was able to lose himself in a subject. A very overweight man, Mr. Chesterton was once sitting in a chair, discussing a subject, when the chair collapsed on him. He moved to another chair and continued the discussion at the exact word he had left off. The people present were convinced that he had barely noticed the collapsing chair and his move to a sturdier seat.

Many opera singers grow fat. One of Gioacchino Rossini’s star singers, contralto Marietta Alboni, grew too fat to sing opera because she couldn’t move and sing at the same time. She had to make her living giving concerts at which she sang while seated in an armchair. Mr. Rossini referred to her as “the elephant who swallowed a nightingale.”

Sir William S. Gilbert was funny in real life. Once, an obese lady attended one of his rehearsals. While his back was turned, she disappeared, so Sir William asked a stagehand where she had gone. The stagehand pointed to some scenery and said, “She’s round behind.” Sir William replied, “I asked you for her geography, not her description.”

“Fat. I presume you want to get rid of it. Then quit eating so much. No normally healthy person on the good green earth ever got thinner without cutting down on caloric intake. Do a few exercises, don’t eat so much, and you will lose weight.” — Richard Watson, writing in “The Philosopher’s Diet.”

Philosopher David Hume was thin as a young man. However, when he was in his twenties, he endured an emotional crisis because of his philosophical skepticism, and he ate so much that he gained 60 pounds in six weeks. For the rest of his life, he was a fat, but happy, man.

Drama critic Percy Hammond enjoyed eating, and his enjoyment soon showed in the stoutness of his figure. Mrs. Robert Mantell, the wife of a Shakespearian actor, once looked at him, then said, “Ah, that one so gross should write of Art!”

G.K. Chesterton, a much overweight man, once watched with amusement a private entertainment in which a man impersonated him, then he told the impersonator’s daughter, “Do you know, I believe your father is Gilbert Chesterton and I am only a padded imposter.”

Humorist Frank Sullivan once took a large second helping, which he couldn’t finish. He remarked, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach.” Then he eyed his stomach, which was becoming quite large, and added, “But my stomach’s catching up with them fast.”

People laughed at the opening of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata.” One problem was that Fanny Salvini-Donatelli, a fat woman, played the part of a courtesan with tuberculosis. Whenever fat Fanny complained of wasting away, the audience roared with laughter.

Jackie Gleason, who weighed 280 pounds, once said that he was practicing to play a golf match with Toots Shor, who weighed 275 pounds. Bob Hope said, “If those two played on the same golf course, you wouldn’t see anything but shadows.”

William Howard Taft weighed more than 350 pounds. After he left office as President, Yale offered him a Chair of Law. Mr. Taft replied that considering his size, it would be more appropriate to offer him a Sofa of Law.

Hugh Troy once had a physician who grew angry at a woman who insisted on having a series of expensive tests done — tests that revealed nothing wrong. When the woman insisted on a diagnosis, the physician told her, “You’re fat.”

Humorist Robert Benchley disliked exercise. After his waist had begun to grow, he ordered a rowing machine that had the advantage of folding up very small. When it arrived, he put it under his bed and never saw it again.

Stubby Kaye was a fat comedian who played one of the troubadours in the movie “Cat Ballou.” (The other troubadour was Nat King Cole.) He was occasionally billed as an “extra padded attraction.”

“The righteous shall eat to their heart’s content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.” — Proverbs 13:25.

© 2015, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

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David Bruce: Author Anecdotes

The Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi is both a novelist and a feminist. She has also written volumes of autobiography. In “A Daughter of Isis,” she recalls learning that boys were valued much more than girls. Her grandmother told her that “a boy is worth 15 girls at least […]. Girls are a blight.” Nawal was angry and stamped her foot. Also in “A Daughter of Isis,” she writes about being circumsized: “When I was six, the “daya” [midwife] came along holding a razor, pulled out my clitoris from between my thighs and cut it off. She said it was the will of God and she had done his will […]. I lay in a pool of blood. After a few days the bleeding stopped […]. But the pain was there like an abscess deep in my flesh […]. I did not know what other parts in my body there were that might need to be cut off in the same way.” She campaigned against female circumcision for 50 years, and in 2008 it was banned, but it still occurs in Egypt. She also was expected to be a child bride: “When I was a child, it was normal that girls in my village would marry at 10 or 11.” However, she resisted by blackening her teeth and spilling coffee on a would-be bridegroom. She has married a few times, and in “Walking Through Fire,” another volume of autobiography, she writes about how a lawyer to whom she was married refused to grant her a divorce, saying, “It is the man who decides to divorce and not the woman.” She threatened him with a scalpel, and he decided to get a divorce, something he should have agreed to earlier. After all, he had given her an ultimatum: She had to choose between him and her writing. She chose her writing.

Wisdom comes from many places. Pammy is the best friend of novelist Anne Lamott, author of “Imperfect Birds.” When Pammy was dying and in a wheelchair. Ms. Lamott asked her if she—Ms. Lamott—looked fat while wearing a certain dress. Pammy replied, “Annie, you really don’t have that kind of time.” Ms. Lamott says now, “I live by that.” Ms. Lamott got something else from another friend, who lent her some “simple but fabulous gold hoops [earrings] from Guatemala.” She wore them, she liked them, and she told her friend, “You know, I won’t be giving them back .” Her friend said—sadly—that she realized that. Ms. Lamott wears the hoops often, and she says, “I still see her every few years, and I’ve always got the earrings, and we still laugh. You can see them in every author’s photo of mine since my second book, ‘Rosie.’”

William T. Vollmann has written fiction and nonfiction of an astounding length. He worked for 23 years on his treatise on violence,“Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means,” which clocks in at 3,352 pages. His seven-cycle novel titled “Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes” remained incomplete as of early 2010. An interviewer once asked him, “Continuing to adhere to a Tolstoyan vision of the novel—its immensity, grandeur, complexity and size—how have you been able to survive in the marketplace with an uncompromising vision completely outside of the mainstream?” Mr. Volmann replied, “When I write my books, I don’t care about the marketplace.”

Authors have many ways to come up with ideas to write about. John Cheever once complained that the tables in a certain restaurant were too far apart. Why was that a problem? He explained, “Now I can’t eavesdrop on any of the conversations.” By the way, being a writer may have saved his life. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1942, the same year that he published “The Way Some People Live,” his first collection of short stories. A major who was also an MGM executive had Mr. Cheever transferred to another unit where he worked as a writer. The unit that Mr. Cheever transferred out of suffered many, many casualties while fighting in Europe at the end of the war.

Jean Genet attended the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where he and many others were chased by the police. At one point, Genet turned around and showed a police officer that he was an old man, and the police officer went around him and chased other people. More police officers were coming, so Genet knocked on a door at random to seek shelter. A person inside the apartment asked, “Who’s there?” Genet replied, “Monsieur Genet.” As it turned out, the person inside the apartment was familiar with Genet and his literary work—in fact, he was writing his thesis on Genet.

Readers can impact an author. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., wrote an ending for his novel “Breakfast of Champions” and sent it to his publisher. He lived quite near his publisher and a lot of mail and messages went back and forth, and a couple of young employees in the production department met him and told him that they didn’t like the ending: “That’s not the way we thought we thought it should end.” Mr. Vonnegut thanked them, looked at the ending, realized that they were right, and wrote another ending—the one that appeared in the published book.

Judy Blume has written a number of books about the lovable boy called Fudge, who is based on her son Larry when he was young. Judy and a grown-up Larry once ate dinner with a little boy whose father read to him from the Fudge books each night. The little boy’s father said to the little boy, “Do you know who this is? This is Judy Blume, who writes the Fudge books.” The little boy’s jaw dropped. Judy then said about Larry, “And guess who this is?” Larry said, “I was Fudge.” The little boy’s jaw dropped further.

Sylvia Plath worked hard to be a writer. She once spoke about wearing out the roller of her typewriter in only one year. This astonished David Ross, who was a friend of Ms. Plath’s husband, Ted Hughes. Mr. Ross had the same make of typewriter that Ms. Plath had—an Olivetti 22—and its roller had shown no signs of wearing out—or even of wear—after many years of use.

Copyright 2015 by Bruce D. Bruce

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Free PDF book: Honey Badger Goes to Hell — and Heaven by David Bruce

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David Bruce: Bill Russell and Prejudice

Bill Russell experienced prejudice while starring for the Boston Celtics. After a three-day weekend, he and his family returned to their home only to discover that it had been broken into and vandalized. Many of his trophies had been smashed, and the vandals had spray-painted “NIGGA” on some walls. In addition, whenever Mr. Russell was out of Boston playing away games, someone upset his trashcans. When Mr. Russell complained to the police about the trashcans, the police told him that raccoons had created the mess. Therefore, Mr. Russell asked about getting a gun permit so he could shoot the raccoons. Apparently, the “raccoons” heard about the gun permit because they stopped upsetting Mr. Russell’s trashcans. Nevertheless, progress in civil rights was being made. Mr. Russell’s grandfather, whom Mr. Russell called the “Old Man,” lived in the Jim Crow South. When he finally attended his first professional basketball game, he was accompanied by his son, Mr. Russell’s father. The Old Man was astonished at seeing the respect Mr. Russell received as player-coach. The Old Man asked Mr. Russell’s father, “Do them white boys really have to do what William tells them to do?” He was even more astonished when he saw John Havlicek, a white man, and Sam Jones, a black man, showering and talking together. The Old Man marveled, “I never thought I’d live to see the day when the water would run off a white man onto a black man, and the water would run off a black man onto a white man.”

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TheatreHooligan1: “My friend, who is a women’s studies major just met Gaston at Disney World.”

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Source: TheatreHooligan1, “My friend, who is a women’s studies major just met Gaston at Disney World.” Imgur. 25 July 2015

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Heinrich Mücke Inspired Dress

davidbruceblog:

Excellent photos. Being indoors does not matter. You did a good job of getting a white background to show off the dress. Also: Excellent choice of lipstick color.

Originally posted on Angela Clayton's Costumery & Creations:

I try not to make separate posts for indoor pictures since they are never that great. But it’s already been a couple week since I finished this project and it might be a couple more before I have outdoor photos, so this will have to do!

Overall i’m really happy with this costume. I love the dress, headpiece, and how they look together. I’m pretty happy with how my wig and makeup turned out too! But I don’t love these pictures. I wanted the dress to be long and flowing but it’s a little too…flat.

I think next time i’ll wear it with a petticoat to get a bit more volume. I posted a video (here) of me spinning in it to get the hem laid out for photos – the volume it has in motion is something I want to carry over into photos as well. But that…

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Usagi-Tsukino-krv: “Tangled Poster”

tangled_poster_by_usagi_tsukino_krv-d5fhzzu

Source: Usagi-Tsukino-krv, “Tangled Poster.” Deviantart. Accessed 24 July 2015

http://usagi-tsukino-krv.deviantart.com/art/Tangled-poster-328364922

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Check Out the Cosplay of Usagi-Tsukino-krv, aka Lunnaya Nadejda of Russia

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A mother describes the struggles of raising three teenage boys”

Imgur Kleenix

Source: writer__ , “A mother describes the struggles of raising three teenage boys.” Imgur. 23 July 2015

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Amazon Kleenix Small

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Brown Wedding

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Free PDF book: Honey Badger Goes to Hell — and Heaven by David Bruce

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