When Stephen Sondheim's great book, "Finishing The Hat" was published, he'd said it all.
It pretty much negated any reason to read any other articles about him.
Particularly the pedantic, sophomoric, self-indulgent articles that were spewed forth by
The Sondheim Review.
Which was why I indicated to it's publisher that in a perfect world, I had no desire to renew my subscription to it.
Okay. I didn't use "pedantic", "sophomoric", and "self-indulgent" to him in describing
But there was an excellent chance that he knew I was thinking it.
So perhaps that was what got his back up.
And that my offer to renew my subscription in exchange for getting the Cryptic Puzzles from the previous ten back issues at three dollars a pop did not elicit an overjoyed reaction.
And maybe that's why I never heard back from anyone from The Sondheim Review.
But, boy, did I want those puzzles.
I alluded yesterday about the old burlesque routine where one character says to another "It's not the money, it's the principle".
At eight dollars a pop, plenty of principle was involved.
The burlesque routine, more elaborately, went "It's not the money, it's the principle! You think I care about the money? I throw money away! That's how little I care about money!"
It builds to everyone on stage tearing up money.
It can be found in the movie "The Night They Raided Minsky's", where it is brilliantly executed.
So I was desperately looking around for a Plan C to get my hands on them puzzles.
I thought I might have found something when I looked at The Sondheim Review website, and noticed that there was a place where they solicited donations to keep
the website going.
Then, I noticed that there were actually two places on the first page of the website where donations were solicited.
This led me to formulate two potential emails: One, at least in my eyes, a far more polite one than the other.
It's the one I sent.
This is it:
As a former subscriber, and as you were kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of the current issue of the Sondheim Review, I was delighted to find that it contained a cryptic puzzle.
I did some checking, and learned that many, if not most of the issues going back to 2008 contain cryptic puzzles. There are about ten of them..
I would like to get copies of these puzzles without having to order back issues at $8 a copy.
I think a fair price for what would be maybe 20 minutes worth of copying and sticking them in an envelope and mailing them to me would be $3 a copy.
That's what I pay for my subscriptions of Games Magazine, which contains one cryptic per issue, and Games World of Puzzles, which contain sometimes as many as six per issue.
I have a subscription to Harper's Magazine, which contains Richard Maltby Jr.'s Cryptic puzzles in each issue. I pay $1.25 an issue for that.
So you can see why $8 a puzzle might stick in my craw a little.
I cancelled my Sondheim Review subscription because I found myself knowing just about everything I wanted to know about Sondheim.
And I just finished reading "Finishing The Hat". And there's tons of information about him on the Internet.
So now, all I'm really interested in are the puzzles.
I briefly spoke to your publisher this past Monday, and presented this proposition, also offering to pay for postage, and renew my subscription, if I could get my hands on these puzzles.
I was told that someone would get back to me about this.
It is now late on Friday, and nobody has.
As you actively solicit donations on the front page of the Website, why not consider what I'm proposing a donation?
One that would require very little effort on your part to earn.
Money that you would not get otherwise
I can be reached at (I gave them my phone number)
Please at least do me the courtesy of responding to this email soon.
This, of course, led to nothing.
Then, almost by accident, Plan D fell into my lap.
This enabled me to turn the threats of negative publicity for them that I had in my other potential email into promises of negative publicity for them.
One of my loyal readers pointed out to me that I had just recently gone over the half-million mark in numbers of hits.
This is in two years.
The Sondheim Review, in seventeen years, has reached about a fifth of that total.
But maybe that's what happens when you devote at least three pages per issue on where each and every production of a Sondheim show that appears in this country is going to happen.
I know that if there's going to be a High School production of "Assassins" coming to my neighborhood, I want to be there.
So maybe I'm shooting a flea with an elephant gun.
But sometimes fleas can be awfully annoying, and it doesn't necessarily matter what weaponry is involved.
Tomorrow: Plan D, how I got the Puzzles, and the somewhat more vicious e-mail that ensued from me.
See ya then!
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."