Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Martin W. Mayer, Arnold: Oh, how proud you must have been, Simon, as you refused to stand up for The playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.
I have a mental picture of the Simon of 1969 as he sat there smugly, defiantly -- hair, like a girl's, down to his shoulders, the scraggly beginnings of a beard and mustache trying desperately to cover adolescent pimples.
[Your Fourth of July column] was "award-winning?" C'mon, Simon, you should be writing jokes for Jay Leno. Awarded by whom? When? Was it The Roger Simon Award to Roger Simon? Or perhaps The Left/Liberal Award to Failed Word Peddlers for the Most Unoriginal Liberal Claptrap of the Year?
Haven't you matured just a little in the past 17 years? Isn't your perception a little deeper, your understanding a little broader? Your writing skills honed just a bit sharper?
COMMENT: No, but my skin has cleared up.
Larry Shennet, Baltimore: When I called The Sun, I was told you were the only person who knew when the next Simon Says column would run.
When will the next one appear? What were the dates of the last two? I think I may have missed them. I also have a client who would like to know.
They are my favorite columns.
COMMENT: Of course they are, Larry. That's because they take about 36 seconds to read and are specifically designed for people who find the comics page too intellectually challenging.
They are, however, also the toughest columns for me to do. While I have no difficulty directing bursts of bile and venom toward all sorts of people and things, a Simon Says column requires two to three dozen such bursts.
I usually average about 10 such columns per year, but this tends to drop off in election years, when most of my bile and venom is reserved for the presidential candidates.
I checked the record and found, to my surprise, that this year I have written but two Simon Says columns: Feb. 25 and May 11.
So as a favor to you and your client (and what on earth could he do for a living?), I will provide a Simon Says column on Aug. 3. Unless news breaks out. Or I suddenly turn into a decent human being.
Cornelius J. Hourihan, Baltimore: Why not roll out Bad Roger and go after His Royal Highness William Donald Schaefer?
Bad Roger should ask him why his spending has increased each year he's been the Guv. Where's it all going? Come on and get Bad Roger cranked up.
COMMENT: I have tried. But Bad Roger says Schaefer, in his last days in office, intends to exercise a little known power and bestow certain titles on distinguished Marylanders.
And Bad Roger is trying to decide whether he wants to become the Earl of Easton, the Duke of Dundalk, the Count of Catonsville or the Baron of Bel Air.
Kate Kelly, Rosslyn, Virginia: Do you know you are in the new "Comedy Quote Dictionary" by Doubleday? You have three jokes in there. Lucille Ball has one, Milton Berle has two, Nora Ephron has two and Redd Foxx has one.
The other Simon, Neil Simon, ties you with three. You are on pages 114, 224, and 231.
COMMENT: OK, so this guy gets sent to prison and he is standing in the yard on the first day and he hears other prisoners calling out numbers.
A prisoner calls "114" and everybody chuckles.
Another prisoners calls out "224" and everybody doubles over with laughter.
So the new guy asks his cellmate what is going on, and the cellmate tells him: "There's only one joke book in the prison library, and we've all read it so many times that we don't need to retell the jokes. We just shout out the page numbers and everybody knows what joke it is."
So the new prisoner goes to the library, checks out the joke book, memorizes a joke and the next time he's in the prison yard, he calls out: "231."
"How come nobody laughed?" he asks his cellmate.
The cellmate shrugs. "Some people just a can't tell a joke," he says.
Now let's see Neil Simon try to top that!