Lardner Family Updates:
- Three generations of Lardners have visited the page, and all
were kind enough to leave a note. I got the greatest thrill of all when Ring Jr.
emailed me a congratulatory letter. He said he acquired his first computer at 80 and is
now trying to understand the computer world (aren't we all). About Lardnermania he says,
"I am tremendously impressed by what you have produced there, and touched by the
discovery that there is even a subsection devoted to me."
I had shied away from writing him before, fearing I would
sound sycophantic or worse. Never would I have imagined that he would write me first. He
truly is a thoughtful and generous man.
James Lardner (grandson) has a new book out, entitled Crusader.
Please go to the Lardner Books For Sale page to read about it.
- Ring Jr. (son),
screenwriter and winner of academy awards for Woman of the Year and M*A*S*H,
will have a new movie coming out this year. He was recently included in an AMC documentary
about the Hollywood Blacklist and is featured in the book, Red Scare: Memories of
the American Inquisition.
- The movie is a film adaptation of Roger Kahn's #1 1972
National bestseller classic The Boys of Summer, about the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Brad Krevoy and Steve Stabler ("Threesome", "Dumb & Dumber") of
the Motion Picture Corporation of America and Jim Moskovitz reportedly will produce the
movie. According to the Brooklyn Dodgers homepage,
"The Boys of Summer is a true story of the first racially integrated
team in modern history, and their quest to beat their cross town rivals, the New York
Yankees. The leading role actor for Jackie Robinson's part, director, and an all-star cast
should be announced soon for America's most popular baseball story, which is scheduled for
a 1996-1997 release.
George Lardner, Jr., (great nephew) had part of his book,
based on his Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Stalking of Kristin: A Father
Investigates the Murder of His Daughter, excerpted recently in People
(13 NOV 95). It is described more fully on the Lardner Books For
I announced here earlier that the St. Jean's
Players of the St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church presented June Moon,
Lardner's collaboration with George Kaufman, this May in New York. (If you saw it, please
tell the director what you think by clicking here.)
The play was also performed by NYU about the same time, and by The Porthouse Theatre of
Kent State University in July and August.
Kevin Grace tells me that the Writers' Theater of Chicago presented Damon,
Ring & F. Scott Too, a play which has the three characters on a train in 1922,
discussing the aftermath of the 1919 World Series scandal.
"The Golden Honeymoon" starring James Whitmore and
Teresa Wright. Part of the American Short Story collection. Hosted by Henry Fonda. Stays
very true to the original short story.
The best (and perhaps only) on-screen performance of an actor playing Ring Lardner goes
to John Sayles in his movie Eight Men Out. A very enjoyable film.
I wish I could get these to you before they are broadcast, but...
Last year, TNT broadcast Alibi Ike and Elmer the Great both
starring Joe E. Brown (the man with no lips). We are waiting for a repeat.
1996, the Bravo Channel broadcast a teleplay version of "Haircut." More
reading than a dramatization, it is not the most exciting half hour of television. Still,
I am happy to see Lardner's work on the air.
Neal McCabe, author of Baseball's Golden Age: The Photographs of
Charles M. Conlon (available on the Lardner Books For Sale
page), wrote this to me about using a Lardner quote in his book:
I'd had a presentiment that Ring would provide my epigraph, especially since he knew
and wrote about many of the players in the book, starting with Ed Walsh, whose hand is
holding a spitball on the cover. Conlon probably knew Lardner fairly well, and he took his
picture at least once that I know of.... How can anyone write a book about baseball from
1910-1940 without a few words from Ring?
The quote used? Enter Jack Keefe: "I ain't a bad looking guy in the White Sox
uniform Al. I will have my picture taken and send you boys some."
J.D. Salinger: Holden Caufield, in Catcher in the Rye, is the best
fictional fan of Lardner's work. Salinger also refers to Lardner by quoting from How
to Write Short Stories in Franny and Zooey. Alex Pugsley
tells me that there are also interesting references to Lardner in the letters of J.D.
Salinger, found in the Firestone Library at Princeton. If anyone has copies of these
letters, please send them.
RING LARDNER, A PERVERT?
Dan VanArsdale (email@example.com) found the following quote in The Law of the
Land: The Evolution of Our Legal System (Simon and Schuster, 1980). A footnote on
page 23 reads:
The word "alibi" has been dulled down to mean any excuse, and then sharpened
up to mean an ego-protecting, semitransparent rationalization for poor performance. For
this perversion of meaning we might blame, in part, Ring Lardner and his creature Alibi
Ike. If we could ever blame Ring Lardner.
LARDNER LOST AND FOUND
This one comes to us from The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley, and has
been made available by Project Gutenberg. Information for downloading texts from
them follows the quote.
QUINCY--The book section of a department store doesn't get much chance to enjoy that
tangential advertising, as Fruehling calls it. Why, when our interior decorating shark
puts a few volumes of a pirated Kipling bound in crushed oilcloth or a copy of
"Knock-kneed Stories," into the window to show off a Louis XVIII boudoir suite,
display space is charged up against my department! Last summer he asked me for
"something by that Ring fellow, I forget the name," to put a punchy finish on a
layout of porch furniture. I thought perhaps he meant Wagner's Nibelungen operas, and
began to dig them out. Then I found he meant Ring Lardner.
GLADFIST--There you are. I keep telling you bookselling is an impossible job for a man
who loves literature. When did a bookseller ever make any real contribution to the world's
For more information on Project Gutenberg write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or ftp in the
or cd etext92
or cd etext93 [for new books] [now also in cd etext/etext93]
or cd etext/articles [get suggest gut for more information]
dir [to see files]
get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]
for a list of books
get NEW.GUT for general information
mget GUT* for newsletters.
John Kordosh of a Southern California rock band wrote me about a song he has
written called "Dowagiac." In it he sang a line about Ring Lardner.
Ring Lardner, Ring Lardner,
our most famed sportswriter,
spent his dying days in Dowagiac.
He wanted the song to be historically accurate, and so he asked if Lardner had ever
been to Dowagiac, which is, by the way, my hometown and place of current residence. He
didn't spend his dying days here--that's for sure. As for visiting Dowagiac at all, I can
say without a doubt that I don't know.
Lardner was probably in Dowagiac for something at some point, but the only reference to
our fair city I find in his writing is a brief statement about his Niles football team
beating ours in 1900. I believe it was the last time that happened. Anyway, John made some
revisions to his song to reflect the historical uncertainty. I believe now he sings:
Ring Lardner, Ring Lardner,
our most famed sportswriter,
spent his dying days dreaming of Dowagiac.
And that is true of most everyone.
RAMBLING RING "Travelogue" is included in a new anthology, The
Oxford Book of Travel Stories, edited by Patricia Craig (Oxford U.P., 1996).
Jack De Vries is writing a history of the
Doherty Silk Sox, a New Jersey semi-pro team that played in Clifton from 1915-27. Does
anyone know of any references to the team in Lardner's writing?
Kevin Grace asks:
In John Held's sketch of Long Island in the Twenties, why did he make Lardner's house
appear as a cathedral, dwarfing the homes of all the other notable residents?
Larry Lorenz asks where the papers of Hugh Fullerton can be found.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of responses I've received to
this web site. Fans have come out of hiding, and students have found a source for
- OUR FOURTH CONTINENT, SEVENTH COUNTRY REACHED: At the
time of the last update, I reported that Kerry Webb had written from Australia,
adding a third continent to our reading list. Paul Cohen had already written from
Sweden, and Stefan Schasche from Munich, Germany. Several readers come to us from
Canada and the U.K. (and even a couple from the United States).
I am pleased to add a
fourth continent to the list. Young-li Choi, a student at Seoul National University in
South Korea wrote me several times concerning a paper he was writing about
Come on South America and Africa!
- STUDENTS: Many students have requested information for term papers. One couldn't
find some of the articles listed in the bibliography and asked if I could send copies. I
did and will for anyone needing them. As my dad used to say, "Just ask." I
cannot fax copies, though, so please allow some time for mailing the old fashioned way.
is one that I didn't answer. A procrastinating student wrote: "I need a term paper on
Ring Lardner in a hurry. If you have one please send it to me asap." Sure thing.
- FANS FIND COMMUNITY: Many of you have expressed how nice it is to find another
Lardner fan. Louisa Otis, for example, writes: "Thank you for your home page
dedicated to Ring Lardner. I've been a Lardner fan for 20 years and do my best to
enlighten others and enrich their lives, but without much success. Mostly I enjoy Lardner
privately and shake my head in wonder that others don't find him as endlessly entertaining
as I do." Later, we discussed the short story "The Facts."
(sorry, I don't know his name) says "As a neophyte to the web and internet, stumbling
upon anything familiar brings me comfort, and Lardner is indeed an old comfort of mine.
It's nice to know others are as strong in their admiration of him."
- Discovery of Ring has also taken place. Sehoy@aol.com writes: I found the
referenced quote [Shut up he explained] in a book of quotations and thought it was
hilarious. I had never heard of Ring Lardner, so I looked in the Dictionary of Cultural
Literacy, a Barron's encyclopedia, and a few other sources, but could find nothing. What a
wonderful thing the computer is! I'm so pleased to meet Mr. Lardner! Thank You!
- Dan VanArsdale inquired about Ring's column on chain letters. Dan is a
mathematician researching chain letters and a very interesting guy. It turns out that
Lardner (now here's an odd distinction) was one of the first writers to include a complete
chain letter in a nationally syndicated column.
- Larry Putt, an actual fan from Niles, suggests that we should be called
"Lard-nerds." I'll stick with "Lardnarian," thanks. Larry, by the way,
made me aware of the AMC documentary "Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial" which
featured Ring Jr. (27 Feb). Lois Howard of Lawrence, Michigan also inquired about
Ring Jr. Although Ring Jr. isn't from Niles, his roots are there. Because of that and his
importance in the film industry, I suggested to the Fort St. Joe Historical Society in
Niles that the city name the high school for him. Then the city would have a Ring Lardner
Jr. High School to go along with the already existing Ring Lardner Junior High School. I'm
not sure if they took me seriously. At any rate, because of the number of inquiries about
Ring Jr., I'll be adding a page about him shortly. In the meantime here's what I've got (Click here for Ring Jr. stuff.}
- Steve Chapman says he is looking for a copy of Regular Fellows I Have Met
and Own Your Own Home. These and his sheet music seem to be hard to come by.
Can anyone help?
- One of my favorite correspondents, Richard Drake or Claremont, CA, has pointed
out an error in The Ring Lardner Reader (Ring's birthday is wrong), and
several on these pages. His latest note was written in the style of Jack Keefe's letters
to Al (Friend Scott, etc.). The first paragraph follows: "Congratulations again on
making the squad. You've done well to bang out a few hits, but my scorecard shows that you
or your teammates have also committed some errors. It's still early in the season, and the
few bobbles I've managed to spot shouldn't cost us the game or even jeopardize your
staying in the starting line-up. Still, adroitness afield is important. So, as
self-appointed scout, I feel it incumbent upon myself to offer Team Lardner a few pointers
in the interest of strengthening its game."
- Allan McEachern writes: "I am a member, in Vancouver, British Columbia, of a
judge's closed network of Canadian judges with some American members. We were chatting
about nothing in particular when one of our members in Williamsburg, VA, commented that
pole vaulters are better complainers than lawyers. That reminded me of Alibi Ike..."
- Finally, I got an exciting letter from Eric Lardner, great- grandson of Ring Sr..
He tells me he is telling other members of the family about the page and that he likes
what we are doing. It's great to have the family aboard.