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Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, ROAD TO UTOPIA, 1946

A cup of coffee in the kitchen looking out at a grey, grey day. Snow and ice are battling to be the top dog in the daily weather Iditarod.

Last night I took a header down our ice-covered front steps as I was taking out the trash. There was no damage that occurred, and the event served as a stimulating end to my 75th birthday, presenting me with the gift of the clear reassurance that there’s no encroaching brittleness to be found in my most serviceable skeletal system. Moreover, there is no subsequent soreness to be found in my muscles either as I sit here contemplating for the umpteenth Tuesday what is on my still highly mind, which is still mostly functional except for its inability to remember the names of a few people I should be able to easily recall, which in turn brings forth daily episodes of playing my own personal version of the old Ten Thousand Dollar Pyramid game show. I would go so far as to venture forth the opinion that my mind is actually, continually improving, a statement which I believe is validated by these letters about what’s on it that I have been sending out each Tuesday (or sometimes Wednesday-which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes, which doesn’t quite work because it depends on oral humor rather than the printed word, but here it is anyway. Help me out:

I say, “who goes to Atlantic City with cats?”

Then you say, “I don’t know. Who does go to Atlantic City with cats?”

And I say “Mrs. Katz, but sometimes Mrs. Nussbaum”)

Another of my favorite jokes is that I have been allowed and for the most part gotten away with turning out these letters for well over a year now. And every week I get to come up with a new punch line of sorts to bring these little jokes of my own to a happy or interesting end.

This week I have two punch lines for my joke. You can choose the one you like best, or just toggle back and forth between them when you pass my letter/joke along to others. Here’s the first one:

Bill T. Jones has agreed to be our honoree receiving this year’s Edgar Rosenblum Award at the annual Irondale Benefit.

The second punch line is found in a letter we just received from the lawyer for the Brecht Estate that grants us permission to do the radio version of Mother Courage (happening in April) and the subsequent live production of it which we will perform when the planets align and we get to open up The Space at Irondale again.

I won’t quote the whole letter, just the punchline, and that goes like this:

“I wanted you to know how supportive the Brechts, and I personally, are of what you have been doing so well for so many years, and for this year, knowing the struggles we all have, the entire license fee (radio and live performances) will be (and here he quotes a most reasonable figure. So reasonable I feel compelled to keep it under our hats.) I hope in a small way this helps, and we all look forward to better days ahead.”

As with the punchlines of all good jokes, I hope that both of these bring a smile to your faces and some warmth to your hearts on this cold grey, grey morning of February 16.


Bill T. Jones being awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2013.


Jim Niesen


Author Irondale

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