It's All In The Game
by A. Charles Corotis


It's All In The Game: A selected Collection of Gay Essays
on Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Mnemosyne,
Assayed from the Provocative Pages of
New Jersey's Literate Review Weekly, The Argus

By A. Charles Corotis



The newly wedded couple smiled out at me from the pages of the New York Times, and involuntarily I smiled back—a warm smile of sympathetic understanding. More power to you, I thought. How wonderful that age is not proof against beauty, charm, nor of courage to stand up to passion and meet it "hand to hand as in the ring," in the words of Plutarch.  

I can't understand the scoffing, deprecating reaction I've heard to the marriage of John D. Rockefeller, unless it be charged to envy. Envy, vexed at what is great and transcend­ent, always strives to depreciate it and find some flaw in it.  

I think it's wonderful. How fortunate are they to find "still in its embers living the strong fire of their affection." Love at that age must be like living again. The sweet poign­ancy of earlier happiness dimmed by time, they must think these are the most beautiful days of their lives. Joy is written all over their faces in the news photo; joy and an apprecia­tion of their good fortune, and yet something akin to apology for finding it.  

Why should that be necessary? Why should they show awareness of existing resentment? Why are so many folks so quick to resent others' happiness? Are we innately envious, selfish? Can't we bear the thought of others finding pleasure that, perhaps, eludes us?  

This seeming reluctance to grant others enjoyment of which we are not a part seems a characteristic of modern cynicism. The ancient sophists and mystics frowned on fun, but for themselves as well as others. They simply took a dim view of sensual pleasures, holding it to run counter to true nobility of character, purity of the soul. Witness the indif­ference and statuesque coldness towards "the heated folly of the emotions" which the Stoics advocated: the no-more-laughing and no-more-weeping of Spinoza.  

"The pleasures of love never profited a man, and he is lucky if they dp him no harm," growled Epicurus 2200 years ago, and he threw in this bit of advice: "Remove sight, sen­sation and contact, and the passion of love is at an end."  

What the old boys didn't seem to realize was that the live­liest thought still is inferior to the dullest sensation. Even Emerson, a scant century ago, complained that the ingenuity of man has always been dedicated to the solution of one prob­lem: how to detach the sensual sweet, the sensual strong, the sensual bright from the moral sweet, the moral deep, the moral fair.  

It remained for Henri Bergson, of the modern crop of philosophers, to point out that the mechanistic instinct of the mind is stronger than reason. Love is an insidious, subtle god that laughs at logic and overpowers obstacles with a mere glance. To ignore that fact is to be guilty of what the Greeks call acatalepsia—a. denial of the capacity of the mind to comprehend obvious truths.  

But love is not merely pervasive and persuasive—it is un­predictable and unexplainable too. Its whimsy is not best illustrated by its visitation to septuagenarians, by any means. How can you account for a sultry sophisticate like Ava Gardner falling for the likes of Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra? Or luscious Paulette Goddard for Charlie Chaplin and Burgess Meredith?  

But who am I to complain? Without that wonderful, in­explicable idiosyncracy of womanhood where love is con­cerned, where would guys like me come off!  

So here's to love—at any age—and here's to the honey­mooning Rockefellers. May they heed the words of Plato: "We must not regard what the many say of us, but what he who has understanding of just and unjust will say, and what the truth will say"; and take solace in the pronouncement of Lucretius: "Envy like a thunderbolt sometimes strikes and dashes men down from the highest point with ignominy in­to noisome Tartarus"; and find comfort in Aristotle's recipe: "It is for the sake of happiness that we all do all that we do"; and inspiration from Confucius: "There is no one who does not eat and drink, but few there are who really know flavor." Me? I think love is here to stay—I'm for it.  

If the ascendancy of Joe Walcott is solace and inspiration to us fortyish folk, think what encouragement the Rock­efeller saga gives us. And then there was William Randolph Hearst, dying at eighty-eight—exactly twice my age—and Marion Davies still with him. What have I been worrying about?  

That was Great Romance too, a September-May song that started over thirty years ago and continued until December's days ran out.  

As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about Hearst al­ways was Marion Davies, and the paeans of praise poured upon him since his death by the hirelings of his far-flung newspaper empire are rather sickening. One syndicated writer lamented the "tragedy" that befell the nation when Hearst failed to get the Democratic presidential nomination in 1904. He would have beaten Theodore Roosevelt easily, says this character. How loyal can you get!  

Orson Welles did a masterful job of portraying the lord of San Simeon in "Citizen Kane," I thought. Hearst, for all his power and wealth, his influence and affluence, couldn't keep the film out of the movie houses, although Welles went on the dirt list and was blacklisted by all Hearst operations until Rita Hayworth left him, an opportunity seized upon with glee by Hearst's smearers to maul the nervy young gen­ius with paper bullets.  

The picture really was terrific, with a spine-tingling end­ing, dramatic in its impact through its very simplicity.  

Well, no matter how much Hearst irked one with his high handed misuse of the power of the press and his flam­boyant yellow journalism, he was a champion in his own field and he contributed a chapter to Americana. And mighty as he was, he could find in all the wondrous maze of San Simeon no armor tough enough to repel the heart-piercing love bug when it really bit him.  

Ad hominem .    . omnia vincit amor . . . sic itur ad astra.


Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that public housing is not "public property used exclusively for any public purpose," and therefore is not entitled to tax exemption. Effect may be far-reaching .... Intrigued by this thought in an obscure weekly paper: "Having removed ourselves from participation in government we look upon it as a wealthy old uncle whom it would seem we wish to die that we may inherit mythical benefits. We storm the ramparts of our economy to demand that which will impoverish us. Americanism is a beautiful and a workable thought but it takes people to make it work and to make it beautiful. The same people can de­stroy it through selfishness". . . . Agreeably surprised to find the support aroused by my reference to Senator Bob Hendrickson as New Jersey's next governor .... Beardsley Ruml says American industry could spend over two billion out of their taxes under the five per cent clause for research and welfare but they muff the ball and use less than one-seventh of it .... The film "Take Care of My Little Girl" is a devastating satirical expose of college sororities .... What made "On Moonlight Bay," vocals by Doris Day and Spring Lake's Gordon MacRae, particularly interesting to me were the songs circa 1917, just after my col'm on tunes of that World War i era. Couldn't have timed it better myself than did Old Man Coincidence with his long arm .... Walt Disney is truly a genius. Saw a cartoon about a windmill and its animals that lifted me right out of my seat with its impact. Just a cartoon, mind you! His "Nature's Half Acre" is an enthrall­ing experience in naturalism. . . . What a provocative job Danielle Darrieux and Fernando Lamas do with that teaser "We Just Sat Around" in "Rich, Young, and Pretty," a first-rate musical, incidentally. The timing and expression of the sophisticated, charm-laden duo are something to see, and the piano background is something to hear .... "Showboat" is in all-around good film, tuneful and colorful, but the high tpot came when Ava Gardner sidled onto the piano to sing "My Bill" as Helen Morgan used to do. She has a sultry, haunting quality in her voice best manifest in the bluesy "Can't Help Lovin' That Man." The Warfield rendition of "Old Man River" compares favorably with Paul Robeson's too .... Rosemary Clooney has some more recordings com­ing up with the same celeste background that was so effec­tive in "Come On-a My House". . . . Have you caught Tony Bennett's deal on "Cold, Cold Heart"? Also, in the same vein, "Warm Beer and a Cold, Cold Woman" and "60 Min­ute Man." Phew! . . . June and her cute friend, Brenda Turley, thought we were merely going for a ride the other Sunday eve, and when Ross's persuasion took us to the board­walk at Seaside Heights they found themselves transplanted into the midst of throngs, wearing shorts and sans shoes. Shorts were not uncommon, but the nudity of their nether extremities was embarrassingly distinctive, to say the least. Two pairs of unclad feet never before were the object of so much attention. Seems like a commentary on modern civili­zation in that somehow: deshabile has practically no limits on the beach, but keep those tootsies decently covered on the boards. I don't get it .... Incidentally, the fuss and furore over gambling seems to have passed Ocean County by; Seaside Heights is as wide open as Atlantic City used to be .... Fleet Farquhar Jones, the former Penn backfield flash, is the latest to pay the extreme penalty for football fame. Jones died at twenty-five from an illness resulting from a ruptured spleen suffered in the Penn-Brown game a few years ago. And his dad is a big physician, too. Few escape some lasting effect of grid activity .... Speaking of middle age, as I was awhile back, I've decided they call it that because that's usually where it shows first. Swimming has slimmed me down some this Summer, though. If only I didn't like my victuals so much!