Sat, 4 July 2015
Spinglish—the devious dialect of English used by professional spin doctors—is all around us. And the fact is, until you’ve mastered it, politicians and corporations (not to mention your colleagues and friends) will continue putting things over on you, and generally getting the better of you, every minute of every day—without your even knowing it.
Today we were joined by Author and Co-founder of National Lampoon Magazine, Henry Beard.
Beard, a great-grandson of Vice President John C. Breckinridge, was born into a well-to-do family and grew up at the Westbury Hotel on East 69th Street in Manhattan. His relationship with his parents was cool, to judge by his quip "I never saw my mother up close."
He then went to Harvard University (from which he graduated in 1967) and joined its humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon, which circulated nationally. Much of the credit for the Lampoon's success during the mid-1960s is given to Beard and Douglas Kenney, who was in the class a year after Beard's. In 1968, Beard and Kenney wrote the successful parody Bored of the Rings.
In 1969, Beard, Kenney and Rob Hoffman became the founding editors of the National Lampoon, which reached a monthly circulation of over 830,000 in 1974 (and the October issue of that year topped a million sales). One of Beard's short stories published there, "The Last Recall", was included in the 1973 Best Detective Stories of the Year. During the early 1970s, Beard was also in the Army Reserve, which he hated.
In 1975 the three founders cashed in on a buy-out agreement for National Lampoon; Beard got US$2.8 million and left the magazine. After an "unhappy" attempt at screenwriting, he turned to writing humorous books. Those that have reached the New York Times Best Seller list are Sailing: A Sailor's Dictionary (1981, with Roy McKie), Miss Piggy's Guide to Life (1981), Leslie Nielsen's Stupid Little Golf Book (1995, with Leslie Nielsen), French for Cats (1992, with John Boswell), and O.J.'s Legal Pad (1995, with John Boswell and Ron Barrett). Other notable books include Latin for All Occasions (1990), The Official Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook (1992, with Christopher Cerf), and What's Worrying Gus? (1995, with John Boswell).
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