How Do I Use To, Two, Too?

“To” is used (among other uses) in infinitives: to walk, to talk.

“Two” is a number: one, two, three.

“Too” means “excessively” or “very”: too hot, too hard, too soft. It can also mean “also”—I’m going, too.

Walter Slezak was an actor—he played the part of the German submarine captain in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. Because his father was the famous opera singer Leo Slezak, he was able to make his stage debut very early in life. At the Cologne Opera House, the director of the opera Lohengrin created a startling trick with perspective. At first, a boat carrying Lohengrin seemed far away, then it seemed very close to the audience. The trick worked through the use of two boats. The first boat was actually very small, and the Lohengrin seen in it was actually a child, wearing a fake beard to seem like the adult Lohengrin. The second boat was large and carried the adult tenor singing the part of Lohengrin. At one performance, the tiny but bearded Lohengrin was four-year-old Walter Slezak.

Mary Badham, who played Scout in the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird, did not want filming to end, so on the last day of shooting the movie, she deliberately flubbed several takes. However, her mother finally told her to say the lines because if shooting took much longer, the Los Angeles traffic would be very bad. During the making of the movie, the child actors frequently made Gregory Peck a target of their water pistols, so when the last take was completed, he stepped away quickly and laughed as the lighting crew poured buckets of water on the child actors. By the way, Mary was feisty. She was a 9-year-old who was playing a younger child, and when someone told her that she was little for her age, she replied, “You’d be little, too, if you drank as much coffee as I do.”

Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, disliked making the movie The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, and the critics hated it, but it did provide one happy memory for him. The movie featured 150 boy pianists, and one day the movie studio made the mistake of giving the boys’ weekly salary to the boys instead of to the boys’ parents or agents. The boys happily gorged themselves on way too many hot dogs and way too much other junk food, and then filming resumed. One boy vomited, and this caused a chain reaction, as one boy after another upchucked the results of a junk-food orgy.

Comedian Henry Morgan once worked the late shift at a radio station. Among his other duties, he had to read a list of the people who were reported missing. Since he figured that at that late hour, no one was listening to the station, he included the name of his boss among the names of the people who had been reported missing. Mr. Morgan was wrong when he thought that no one was listening—his boss had been listening, so he was fired.

A Notre Dame tradition at the end of spring training was a game between the old-timers and the new varsity. The old-timers were varsity players who were graduating as well as some former players who were now alumni. At age 35, Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, who had played for the school, decided to put himself in the game for two plays. For the first play, all of the players on his side deliberately refrained from blocking, allowing all 11 players on the new varsity to tackle him. Knute picked himself up, laughed, and on the next play threw a pass for very good yardage, then took himself out of the game. This is what he did in real games, too. He would not take a player out of the game after the player had made a bad play; instead, he would let the player make a good play, and then he would take him out. That way, he boosted the player’s confidence rather than destroyed it.

As a boy, George W. Bush used profanity—something that his mother, Barbara, did not like. One day, they were playing golf. George hit a bad shot on the first hole, and he swore out loud. His mother told him not to use profanity, but George swore out loud on the second hole, too. Barbara ordered him to leave, and George sat in the car while Barbara and a friend (actually, George’s friend) played the remaining 16 holes of golf.

Greg “the Bull” Luzinski was a big man and a major hitter in the major leagues. Umpire Eric Gregg once called a strike on him, and when the next pitch went across the plate at roughly the same spot, he called, “That’s two.” The Bull raised the bat above his head and asked, “Two what?” Mr. Gregg looked at the baseball bat and the Bull’s massive build and replied, “Too high.”

Charlie Grimm, manager of the Chicago Cubs, once got angry with umpire Charlie Moran—so did several of his players. As his players stormed out to argue the call with umpire Moran, Mr. Grimm told them, “The first person to lay a finger on this blind old man will be fined 50 bucks.”

When opera singer Joan Hammond returned to Australia for a visit, two of her nieces asked for her autograph—in fact, they each gave her a piece of paper and asked that she sign each piece of paper ten times. When she had finished, they said, “Goody! Now we can swap these for twenty tadpoles!”

Some young children are surprised that older adults have parents, too. Librarian Jeanette C. Smith once made friends with a 10-year-old girl who often came into the Minnesota public library where she worked. One day, Ms. Smith’s mother visited her, leaving as the 10-year-old girl arrived. The 10-year-old girl asked who the visitor had been, and when Ms. Smith explained that the visitor had been her mother, the 10-year-old girl exclaimed, “YOU HAVE A MOTHER!”

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