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The Creed of The Spectator

Located as we are in the great midwest and not particularly affluent at or with any particular thing (hence spectators) we will expound as occasion permits for the “sheer delight of creating something.”

Religion and politics of any kind are forever expunged from our columns. We will permit no personal quarrels or internecine politics.

We will fight, with all the vigor we possess, all instances of banal commercialism encountered. (An excellent current colloquial definition of “commercialism” something “corny.”)

We will preach (but with the limited equipment at our command) the gospel of good printing.

No individual or faction or philosophy will control our thoughts. Wordsworth’s lines express our guiding spirit:

“A primrose by a river’s brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more.”

A spade is a spade. A primrose is a primrose. We’ll call ’em as we see ’em.

– The Midwest Spectator. Reprinted from Vol. 1. No. 1 of The Spectator which ended up in somebody’s wastebasket

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Washington Report

There are intervals in a printer’s life when he discovers his limited knowledge of language and his cold, immobile type are most lacking to truly signify his innermost thought.

Such a moment has arrived in my fourscore and 3. I just cannot do justice in writing of my Washington jaunt.

Lack of time also is at hand to stay the rather fulsome report I would like to make. I must meet Beatty’s Bundle Deadline. And it is for sure there hasn’t been a month in the last six but what Spectator just jumped in under the wire!

So if the gentle readers of Spectator can stand cold news at a later date I’ve much to report on all the happy moments at the Washington AAPA Convention.

Also, if photographs that were taken by Floyd Ackerman, Margaret Adams and myself show indications of being newsworthy Spectator will carry a special picture section in the next issue.

It was such a happy experience! We were so busy!

Most of all I wanted to talk with those I have had correspondence. What more pleasurable experience can you undergo than in talking to someone whose interests are identical to your own?

I’m glad to report that President Lee Hawes is a true “Southern Gentleman” in all respects and an extremely capable person.

But space grows short. There is much to tell. Alas! it must wait.

If you believe Spectator to have a date with destiny hang on to this copy. Owing to the short allotment of time at my disposal due to the period I spent in Washington only 300 copies were brought into the world!

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Gilbert & Sullivan
by Earle Cornwall

IN THE FALL of 1875 the Savoy Opera Company presented London audiences with a charming light opera, “Trial by Jury,” under the management of D’Oyly Carte which proved a thoroughly successful venture. Then for 14 years there followed a stream of plays, elaborately staged, with rollicking acts and characters, tinkling melodies and librettos that sang themselves into the hearts of millions.

Critics to this day acclaim these operas as top-ranking examples in the field of operatic entertainment.

The begetters of this string of stage successes were that incomparable duo, Gilbert and Sullivan, one of the most felicitous and perfectly balanced team of collaborationists in modern times. Both were proficient in their different callings. Gilbert’s collected salmagundi of wit, “The Bab Ballads,” was for some decades as popular as “Alice in Wonderland.” His dramas, comedies and burlesques had long runs in London and Paris, and once the Gilbertian fairy tales were perennial Christmas gifts.

Arthur Sullivan, the composer, wrote many and varied oratorios, anthems and favorite songs, among the latter the evergreen “Onward, Christian Soldiers!”

Under D’Oyly Carte’s clever manipulation the Gilbert and Sullivan talents were fused and blended; not, however, without many tribulations. Sir Gilbert’s witty sallies and cynical humor often drove Sir Sullivan to biting retorts in the choicest of innuendo. Yet for all such moments of polite hecklings and mutual criticism, each retained an utter urbanity toward the other.

In the fitting of lyrics to melody there is the same give and take necessary as in other callings where the initial work of one creator needs the finishing touch of the partner. Often the question is asked by the uninitiated, “Which comes first – the lyric or the melody?” There is no answer, for often lyrics sing themselves to the composer and vice versa. Occasionally the man at the piano may say to his lyricist “Listen to this, William. I have in mind a little garden by the Shalimar and pale hands I love to touch.” Music is a language. It speaks to the inner consciousness of the sensitive, proficient song-poet. Lyrics gush forth, later to be trimmed to fit the musical meters.

A perfect collaboration is not without its up and downs, its trials and errors, its fizzles and successes.

So it happens that as I dream today over the remnants of this poor script – slashed, excised, expunged and maltreated by the reddest pencil in the whole state of Iowa – the knowledge weighs upon me that the Writer & the Printer are collaborators in a general sense; that the writer’s text, whether prose or verse, is “set to type” by his printer, in much the same way as the Gilbertian librettos were woven into the melodious patterns of Sullivan.

In conclusion, we stress the old platitude, “Every man to his humor.”

The present face of Amateuria needs lifting. Certainly advertising matter needs to be laid before the student journalists in colleges and universities; before those who like to write and find pleasurable contentment in making words work for them. Contacts with students of journalism should be cultivated and the vast opportunities in the field of writing available in AAPA pointed out to them.

Eventually certain of our better printers would find it pleasantly easy and possible to gradually build associational amateur journalism by example, into a guild of artists and craftsmen instead of producing beautiful journals as now, with pages filled by one pretty letter following another, ad infinitum, and every page insipid, vacuous and ephemeral.

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Perhaps the worst trait of the Modernist (in advertising typography) has been his sole reliance on his concept of design. Art and captions must combine to make an effective pattern. There is also the copy block, a blackish rectangle to be placed somewhere strictly for its design value. What words and meanings went to make up the copy message escapes him entirely…. To my eye his sole aim seems to be to express himself or his own skill in his arrangements instead of attempting to present the thing he is paid to exploit – the thing the advertiser wishes to advertise. – William Feather.

* * * *

“Lush” is the word that describes the Iowa landscape this season. As far as the eye can reach on every side, we see evidence of the fertility of the land. The very greenness is almost tangible, very inspiring even the least artistic of us to wish we could take up a brush and mix such colors.

That’s What They Call It
by Tom Mulrooney

He pulled open the drawer and removed a dark object. Cradled in his hands was a long barreled Luger. He slipped one bullet into the chamber of the gun. He would get him tonight. So he thought he could get away with anything did he; thought he could ruin my life did he? Well, tonight he’d learn different. These thoughts passed through the mind of the man standing in the small apartment room. Then he straightened up. As the light fell across his face you could see a long ugly scar from his eye all down the side.

The tall man emerged from the apartment house. He signaled a taxi. “Where to, mister?” asked the driver.

“Riverview apartments, east side,” came the crisp reply. The taxi sped away.

The passenger got out in front of the Riverview apartment building, paid the driver and strode off. The taxi roared on and the man changed his direction. He walked up the street a block and then quietly ascended the fire escape of an apartment house marked with “Exeter” in script on the front door. The dusk made him only a shadow, invisible from a distance. Suddenly he stopped, peered in a window.

Inside sat a man reading the evening paper. He was the man outside pushed it open and climbed in. The room’s occupant turned and stared in amazement that turned to terror as he saw the gun. He stammered, “You… you…”

A grim smile spread over the intruder’s face. “That’s right,” he replied. “Think I’d let you get away with it forever? No, not me. Here’s where you get yours!”

“But… I can explain… I…,” spluttered the frightened man.

“You can do your explaining to the angels!” The stranger snatched a pillow from the bed near him, stepped close to the fear-paralyzed man. Burying the gun in the pillow he squeezed the trigger. There was a muffled report and the victim slumped forward in his chair with a low moan. The intruder dropped the gun at the dead man’s feet after wiping off his own fingerprints and after clutching the corpse’s hand around it. Then he disappeared out the window. He tossed the pillow into an ashcan in the alley. The night swallowed him up.

The next day a cleaning woman found the body and called the police. They arrived and examined the body. With them was the star police detective. He carefully scrutinized the room and then pronounced his decision. “Suicide,” he said, “That’s what they call it.”

“Guess you’re right,” agreed the chief. The detective turned to leave the room. He was a tall man and would have been quite handsome except for one defect: a long, ugly scar ran from his eye along the side of his face.

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is a subtle quality inseparable from the tools and materials employed and is not attained by a preconceived attempt to include it.

Nor is it a dress of thought or form, a robe to be put on or off at will.

It is, instead, the living expression, controlling both the form and thought and the idea – an intimate, recognizable quality in the work of a craftsman, wholly unconscious of style or of any definite aim toward beauty.

– Frederick Goudy

Marge’s Dictionary

Abdomen – A bowl-shaped cavity containing the organs of indigestion.
Bacteria – The rear entrance to a cafeteria.
Courage – The state of being too scared to give up, or too tired to run away.
Egotism – The sublime opiate that deadens the pain of mediocrity.
Girdle – A stomach snood.
Gossip – The art of saying nothing in a way that leaves nothing unsaid.
Home – The only place you can eat hash with confidence – and enthusiasm.
Hypochondriac – A man who can’t leave being well enough alone.
Law – The end product of crystallized public opinion.
Limburger – Cream cheese with a secret weapon.
Modern – A word used to justify something that has no other merit.
Pork – A meat used in making chicken salad.
Thinking – The talking of the soul with itself.
Wine – High octane grape juice.

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A Basis for Criticism
by Clara Ullrich Samuels

CRITICISM can benefit everyone if it is not carried to extreme and if it is followed up by a good solution to the problem which the one who is judging sees in the publication he is condemning. In order not to cause a hostile attitude in the creator of the imperfect product, it is kinder to call attention to the good points first and then comment on the improvements which could be made. This course would make the author feel that his work is not wholly out of order and it would save embarrassment.

The critic could cover the issue with an impersonal essay on the subject or he could mail his criticism to the member whose work he would like to see improved. Under no circumstances should he make public remarks in a belittling way; for he then either makes a foe of the person whom he seeks to help, or he diminishes the ambition of the member who by then thinks he is a candidate for an amateur press for juveniles. Many new writers and publishers are not sure enough of themselves to withstand a sharp, caustic, public remark. Ridicule is an unpardonable crime to some.

A critic might be helpful if manuscripts which are returned several times to the bureau could be turned over to him and he could then point out to the writers just what is wrong with their work. This would help them out of their difficulties.

The fact that a publication is mimeographed should not be a topic of criticism for this method is usually resorted to for financial reasons.

Anyone who is deeply interested in amateur journalism will gradually improve his style as his experience progresses.

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Wholesale cost of paper jumped $5 to $10 a ton in July! Take heart, laddies, in a pinch we can always emulate the Vicksburg incident and print on wallpaper!

by Edwin L. Brooks

When a woman is very bad, she is awful, but when a man is correspondingly good, he is weird.

New Version: To the victors belong the despoiled.

God created the coquette as soon as he had made the fool.

There is nothing quite as strong as a mother’s love, unless it is the father’s breath.

Woman’s intuition is just the knack of knowing it will happen again.

A survey of our coal fields reveals enough fuel still underground to keep us in coal strikes for 160 years.

The wheel that squeals the loudest gets the most grease.

It doesn’t always mean a girl’s a hophead just because she is under the influence of some dope.

Woman is a flower that exhales her perfume only in the shade.

A naked truth is less suggestive than a veiled allusion.

Keep Busy!

Doctors now declare that energy comes from an interest in living. This particularly applies to old age. A continued interest in life, in hobbies, in people is wiping out the aches and pains that people used to have after 60 or even before. How old, then, is old? It is said that the mind is practically ageless. Memory may slip a bit but judgment may actually improve and creative imagination is scarcely touched by age.

Aids to Writing

The difference between a simile and a metaphor is often confusing.

As a figure of speech, simile is a comparison proclaimed as such (indicated frequently with as or like); a metaphor is a tacit comparison, a suggested likeness or analogy made by using a word or idea in place of another. Examples: Simile: “growing like a weed.” Metaphor: “blazing (preparing, or leading) the way.”

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The Spectator
Volume 2, Number 9, September 1950

Edited & Printed by Milton Grady, Gra-Bel Press, Runnells, Iowa, a Non-Commercial Hobby Print Shop

Published the 15th of each month. There is no subscription fee. The Spectator is printed for free distribution to everyone interested.


The Spectator is affiliated with the American Amateur Press Association, a group composed or all age-classes, who write, edit, print and publish entirely as a hobby endeavor.

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