Thankful for today? For one thing, the privilege...


November 24, 1993|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

WHAT AM I thankful for today? For one thing, the privilege to write for such intelligent, knowledgeable, clever and alert Readers.

For example, I wrote that a senator who said "what a tangled web we weave" was unconsciously quoting from " 'Lochinvar,' according to my "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations." In wrote D. G. Cartwright of Selbyville, Del., to say, "My 'Bartlett's' and 'Oxford Dictionary of Quotations' say 'Marmion.' Let's not ensnarl the old web any worse."

And Robert B. Alexander of Sykesville wrote, "My copy of the 'Oxford Dictionary of Quotations' shows that the words were a part of the large work 'Marmion.' Alexander says he memorized "Lochinvar" (which is only a part of "Marmion") in high school in 1923 and "with very slight urging can still ring the hall with -- 'For a laggard in love and a dastard in war was to wed the fair Ellen of young Lochinvar!!' "

And then I wrote that Eugene McCarthy used to quote "a line of obscure poetry, 'If you distill the pond, the water lilies die.' " Sarah P. Simmons of Ellicott City gently set me straight with this: "As a student and friend of the late William Stafford, one of our great poets, I call your attention to a poem called 'Connections.' She enclosed a copy. Its last line is, "And if we purify the pond, the lilies die."

And then I wrote, "It's not just us ignorant journalists who are responsible [for sloppy language]." "We," Dorothea T. Apgar of Baltimore, explained, not "us." "If you drop the qualifying noun (journalists) you see it should be we. (We who are responsible.)"

And then I wrote that the Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that a newspaper libeled a 98-year-old Arkansas woman for reporting she was pregnant. Joseph Spear of Washington, D.C., corrected me, "I believe this was a 'false light' invasion of privacy."

And then I wrote that we could do away with the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. Michael V. Ryan of Bel Air pointedly noted that I had left the First Amendment (freedom of the press) standing. He also wrote, "Until the judiciary started screwing around with it, the Constitution worked quite well. Rather than discarding the Constitution, as you advocate, we should be reclaiming it."

And then I wrote that I read Perry Mason books before television, and always thought of him as slim, not a Raymond Burr type. I figured this was because I was slim. The real reason, wrote Myron Beckenstein of Columbia, probably is that I saw a slender actor named Warren William play Mason in the movies; and, come to think of it, that's so.

And then I wrote that "Dixie" was based on an ex-slave's homesickness for Charles County. An anonymous Reader wrote: Sounds more like myth than fact. The real question is: Did cotton ever grow in Charles County?"

I don't know. But I'll bet someone reading this does.

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