Friday, March 04, 2011

Now, compute the truth-value of "this is Marie of Roumania"

Late one morning [Hendrik] Hertzberg got a phone call from a man who identified himself as William Shawn, the editor of the New Yorker. "Yes," Hertzberg replied before hanging up, thinking that his friends were playing a prank on him, "and this is Marie of Romania." Then the phone rang again, and the caller insisted, "No, this really is William Shawn."
This anecdote's charm derives in part from the fact that Hertzberg was quoting the last line of a short poem by famous New Yorker writer Dorothy Parker:
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong --
And I am Marie of Roumania.

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