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Becoming Dr. Seuss: The Making of an American Imagination

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 19, 2024 3:02 am

Becoming Dr. Seuss: The Making of an American Imagination

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 19, 2024 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, from Green Eggs and Ham to How the Grinch Stole Christmas, we’re all familiar with the work of Dr. Seuss. But the story of how he actually became the author we know and love is far from short and simple. Brain Jay Jones, author of “Becoming Dr. Seuss”, is here with the full story of the man behind this pen name.

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Dr. Seuss was born Theodore Geisel, Theodore Seuss Geisel in fact in Springfield Massachusetts. He is the son of a very successful brewing family. They're German immigrants who had his his grandfather had come to the United States and set up a brewing company that was very successful. And so Seuss was around German brewers loved listening to his German ancestors you know his family members talking German.

He would sit at the top of the stairs and listen to the conversation downstairs. He loved the sound of that language and how if you have a German word and you want to qualify something you just keep adding on to the word and it gets longer and more interesting. At one point he talks about going to school during World War I and having children chasing him and throwing coal at him saying kill the Kaiser.

They knew he was a German immigrant. That always sort of stayed with Seuss a lot of his life. I think that's where he gets sort of his you know love for the underdog and for the oppressed and I think a book like The Sneetches is probably sort of born out of that sheer feeling of being the outsider being the other that he experienced even as a child when people threw coal at him for being German. His mother is Henrietta Seuss or Seuss is actually the correct way of pronouncing the name. Seuss is his mother's maiden name. That's where he gets the name Seuss from. Seuss always said that you know it rhymed with mother goose or somebody pointed that out to him so he was always okay with people pronouncing it Seuss. His mother he often said is the one who inspired his love of rhyme.

She had worked in a bakery and she would you know chant little poems on the flavors of pie they had available that day which always cracked him up. So Seuss's father inherited the brewing company right about the time that prohibition kicked in and so Seuss's father never ended up running the company and in fact they were in danger of losing everything. Seuss's father then of course ended up in a job as superintendent of parks for Springfield which is a job he had most of his life after that and Ted as everybody always called Seuss as a kid you know grew up around the parks and going to the zoo there in Springfield and he often joked about how you know his father would put him in the cages and let the animals chew on him and things like that none of which happened you know Seuss never lets the truth get in the way of a fantastic story. But Seuss you know had this sort of just this creative regular kid's life in Massachusetts at the turn of the century. It's really interesting Springfield is a really interesting town it's almost like this imaginative hub up there in that part of New England you know like Milton Bradley is from there and Naismith created basketball at the YMCA there in Springfield. I mean it's like all these weird little you know American industries and icons came out of there.

I think Smith and Wesson came out of there. It's just you know there's all sorts of really fascinating people that were in and around Springfield. So Seuss comes out of Dartmouth University as a fairly mediocre student but manages to get a scholarship to go to Oxford. He told his father in fact that he had applied for a scholarship and won it and that actually turned out to not be true but his father had bragged all over town that his son was going to going to Oxford so once he found out it wasn't true he paid to send the son to Oxford anyway. So Seuss is going to Oxford on his father's dime at this point and quickly finds out he'd rather do anything but study English. He initially went to go be an English professor quickly loses interest in it but he meets a woman who would eventually become his wife a woman named Helen and she is sitting next to him in class one day as he's doodling and says you know somebody who draws the way you do should do that for a living and so Seuss who ends up marrying Helen and they end up living together back in the United States he sets up shop and this is in the sort of the gilded age of the United States you know the mid to late 20s and he embarks on this very successful career and it's hard to believe now that you can set up a career doing something like this but he's he has a very successful career trajectory as a cartoonist for for the magazines you know it's like almost like today's New Yorker cartoons but there's you know he's doing cartoons for Liberty magazine and Judge magazine and all these all these magazines with these massive circulations and earnings living doing that but he also manages to get an incredibly lucky fortuitous moment where he does this cartoon that has a knight laying in bed there's a dragon sticking its head through the window and the knight says another dragon and here I just had the entire castle sprayed with flit flit was a bug repellent very popular in the era well the woman who was married to the man who ran the ad campaign for flit I mean this is none of those crazy stories saw that cartoon in the magazine went to her husband and said this is the greatest advertisement for flit you could ever ask for you need to hire this young man to be your flit adman so soos ends up in advertising through this and he's a very successful adman he's the don draper of you know of 1925 he ends up running the flit campaign for I think something like 17 years just full page ads and color billboards and it became sort of a running joke like um you know where's the beef or something like that you know quick henry the flit was the tagline and it was used in songs and it was in punch like comedians would say quick henry the flit and everyone would laugh they all got the joke so soos had this very successful career as an advertising man for years before he ever got into children's books what finally happened was he had done some illustrations for a book that was sort of like kids say the darndest thing it was like this book of kids saying funny things that were true and then he would put the illustrations in it and soos thought you know under my contract with flit I have a non-compete clause so I can't draw for a book like this but there was nothing in his contract that said he couldn't do children's books so because there was a loophole in his contract there was essentially money on the table it's still there for children's books so soos decides to write a children's book purely basically because he had a clause in his contract that said he could um or that didn't say that he couldn't it wasn't any great calling uh at least at that time you know to provide great books for kids or because he felt some compelling urge to write them for kids so he went ahead and started to write a children's book and that's where the book and to think that I saw it on mulberry street came from his work on children's books for part of his career didn't pay his bills and you know children's books was a side hustle for him for quite a long time and we're listening to author brian j jones his book becoming dr soos well you need to pick it up go to amazon or the usual suspects to buy the book when we return the story of dr soos continues here on our american stories folks if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of america's rich past know that all of our stories about american history from war to innovation culture and faith are brought to us by the great folks at hillsdale college a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life and if you can't get to hillsdale hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses go to hillsdale.edu to learn more nfl plus premium is your ticket to the nfl off season catch all your favorite off-season coverage and stream exclusive content from the nfl draft training camp free agency and more relive the biggest players from the season with full and with full and condensed game replays he's in touchdown plus stay connected with 24 7 football news and coverage on nfl network sign up today at plus dot nfl.com terms and conditions apply ready to unlock a world of entertainment phillips roku tv has america's favorite tv streaming platform built in so you can watch live tv catch every game discover must-see shows and hit movies and get all the best streaming apps in one place like iheart for all your favorite music radio and podcasts watch what you want when you want immerse yourself in entertainment with premium 4k picture and sound for every budget with sizes for every room find your perfect phillips roku tv today online or at your local walmart and sam's club billy eilish and phineas o'connell they're with us today on frugal i'm your host anthony della sandro billy's vocals it was automatic art you know i had to like choose a more challenging route than just like you know what i'm saying like it could have been like easier and a lot of people have asked me like how did you choose to have it be so soft and like so simple and what else was it gonna like that's what the song wanted thanks for listening to this episode of the crew call podcast on deadline and we're back with our american stories and with brian j jones sharing the story of how theodore geisel became dr sus let's pick up where we last left off so the first book that sus publishes when he realizes that his contract again with flit does not prohibit him from doing children's books is he's on a cruise with his wife helen he's sitting in the bar and tues sits in bars a lot in fact you can never take the brewer's kit completely out of the kit he's sitting in a bar on a boat in the middle of the ocean in kind of a storm and he's listening to the engines turning over in this regular rhythm this and he starts trying to come up with words to fit that rhythm it's essentially the rhythm of twas the night before christmas i think it's called something like anapestic tetrameter or something like that but the engines are rolling in this very regular rhythm and sus starts trying to put together a poem a really bouncing poem to fit that rhythm and goes through several different iterations but that's the book that becomes and to think that i saw it on mulberry street following that rhythm of the boat engine sus writes and illustrates this book and it's you know and it's a very fitting first book for sus because it's about a little boy who sees a man with a horse and a cart on mulberry street and starts turning minnows into whales as he says in the book telling bigger and bigger tales of what's happening and spinning this gigantic story and bringing in all these characters and then at the very end when his father finally asks him what he saw he says i just saw the horse and carriage on mulberry street you know it goes back to the truth at that point but it's a fantastic story it's a great debut but it's one of those books that sus when he when he gets done with it can't find anybody who wants to publish it but sus walked it all over new york city this is still he's doing his advertising work and he's hauling his manuscript around and as he's walking down one of the streets in new york he runs into a friend of his from dartmouth who works for a publisher and his friend says to him what what are you carrying around here ted and sus says well i've got this kid's book that no one will will publish i was going to take it home and burn it and his friend says you know come come inside with me and let me take you up to the editor in charge of children's books and let me see what we can do and sus gets his book published through this connection with the dart with friend of his sus always said later had i been walking down the other side of the street i might be in dry cleaning today so it was a very fortuitous moment in his life and he happened to be in the right place at the right time and met an old friend of his who shepherds that book into publication that's that's the beginning of his publishing with children's books but he's not doing them because he feels some great moral obligation to children to give them great books that they deserve this happens later and sus talked about that he almost has this epiphany at one point about it so sus had a brief career as an editorial cartoonist you know doing these cartoons of taking on america first and anti-semitism these really progressive cartoons and he ends up enlisting in the army he's too i think he's 39 years old he's a little too old like he's not going to see any active active service he's not going to be on the front lines or anything but they stationed him out in california near where he lived and he is in the signal corps and his division is run by commanding officer frank capra the director and capra had recruited sus they knew from his work that he was a smart guy because of his ad work they knew that he was great at message that he could get a message through quickly and funny and succinctly and that he could draw well and so they put sus in charge of doing military training films a lot of the soldiers at that time couldn't read so they really wanted to do some animated cartoons that would teach soldiers the basics and i mean when i talk basics it's like how not to get killed basically you know and it's like this is how you protect yourself from malaria by you know putting on your repellent and sleeping in your nets and lessons like that so sus creates this character with capra called private snafu and snafu teaches soldiers how to be great soldiers by doing everything wrong so you get to see snafu reap the the consequences of his actions the entire time in a very funny way but capra does two things that are really important in sus's career first capra as a film director sits down with sus and goes through his scripts and says i'm going to underline in blue everything in this script that advances your story and when i give this back to you if there's no blue on your page you have a problem because you don't have a lot of time in these cartoons you need to move and so he taught sus conciseness which again informs the way he worked later on making every single word count making sure every beat matters that's one of the big lessons that capra teaches sus the other thing he does is capra and again this is a film director's perspective that sus grabbed hold of and ran with for the rest of his life capra would storyboard everything and would show you how to storyboard and he does something really brilliant in that for the private snafu cartoons he recognizes a fellow crazy somebody who fits sus like a glove in a young animator at that time named chuck jones who's over at warner brothers now jones is not in the military he's the civilian who's paired up with sus and they create these private snafu cartoons together and chuck jones as we know is the one who any bugs bunny cartoon that you know and love and remember chuck jones was behind as either a writer or director you know all the classics are chuck jones so chuck is working with dr sus too and he's showing him the art of storyboarding of taking taking the story and breaking it down into basic components pinning it up on the wall and staring at it and moving pages around to see where it works better this is a practice that sus would use the rest of his life with his own books he would put his pages up on the wall of his office and stare at them and and realize this doesn't work here this is funnier over here so these are the skills he learns from capra and from chuck jones that then informed the way he would do his art for the rest of his life later on of course he would be paired up again with chuck jones to do how the grim stole christmas and jones was the perfect one to do that and sus was very skeptical about letting anybody adapt his work to the dream but with chuck jones he knew he had a a good friend and an ally in that so jones comes back into his story later on but two really key relationships that sus gets into in world war ii capra and chuck jones in 1949 after he's been he's come out of come out of the signal corps he's still making a career in ads he's dabbled in hollywood screen fixing and screenwriting he doesn't like it it's writing by committee he's a little bit miserable but he still really wants to do children's books and he's just successful enough at it as a sort of second job that he's actually asked to lead a writer's workshop on writing children's books for the university of utah in 1949 and it is a pivotal moment in children's literature because sus sits down and writes down by hand on paper what he thinks makes great writing for children and he's taking lessons that he's learned from capper you can clearly see him processing and talking about you've got to make the words count you have to keep the action moving forward you will lose children he was telling students in his class you know your biggest competitor right now is comic books whether you like comics or not they are entertaining kids and they are fast-paced and they are fun and they are colorful that is your competition that is who you are up against that's what you've got to remember when you're writing for kids and so it's just really putting down on paper what children need to you know have their interests sustained and how you don't want to write down to them and how you don't want to be deliberately saccharine you know kids don't kids don't like being talked down to sus inherently gets this if you're trying to impress a kid or you're trying to write fancy for some kid they will see right through he would tell these these these students in his class that a child is the toughest audience you will ever write for because they will see you coming you cannot fool a kid so don't try it's sus sort of having this i don't want to say eureka moment necessarily but he's sort of taken everything he's learned from having written children's books and having worked with capra with chuck jones and what's funny and what makes things work and pacing of a book and understanding that that's the key to keeping a kid interested in reading again it's a really really important moment in not just sus's life but in the history of writing for children and you're listening to brian j jones telling the story of dr sus his book becoming dr sus well you've got to pick it up go to amazon or the usual suspects that first book well he gets the idea of the rhythm of his poetry by the rhythm of the cruise ship's engine and so much of what he does has to do with rhythm and then of course he joins the army and by sheer happenstance his boss is the great frank capra who by the way won oscars for the why we fight series messaging and message mattered in world war ii we were continually selling the american public on our need to stay in this fight and win he also came across chuck jones while he was there too and then he leaves the military and that seminar about writing children's books at the university of utah changed everything for him don't talk down to kids keep the plot moving and by the way remember children are the toughest audience you will ever write for and if you've ever performed for them you know they're even tougher when we come back more of the remarkable story of dr sus here on our american stories nfl plus premium is your ticket to the nfl off season with the first pick in the nfl draft catch all your favorite off-season coverage and stream exclusive content from the nfl draft training camp free agency and more relive the biggest plays from the season with full and condensed game replays he's in touchdown plus stay connected with 24 7 football news and coverage on nfl network sign up today at plus dot nfl.com terms and conditions apply from football playoffs to basketball madness tcl roku tvs are the best way to stream your favorite live sports with all the biggest sports channels a sports zone with all available games in one place and apps like iheart radio with sports podcasts such as the herd with colin cowherd cheering on your favorite team has never been easier a big screen tcl roku tv offers premium picture and sound quality so you'll feel like you're right in the action find the perfect tcl roku tv for you today at amazon.com hey this is john ridley and this is matt carrey documentary editor at deadline and welcome to talk talk john we've got a hard-hitting episode today a lot of controversy well maybe we should put the word controversy in quotes in the documentary field about the nominees for best documentary feature we're going to get into that with some amazing panelists you get a shot but the individuals behind every one of those images they're complicated and they are human this has been doc talk thank you great and we return to our american stories and to brian j jones and he's sharing the story of how a man named theodore geisel became dr seuss back to brian with more of the story so in 1954 in life magazine the novelist john hersey is writing a piece about doing what we tend to do as a society about every five years we write these long agonized pieces about what's wrong with kids today you know why why aren't they interested in reading why are they sassing their parents who's to blame for this well you know at that time whether it was comic books at one point or today it was the first time that they were going to be able to do that and at that time whether it was comic books at one point or today it's video games or you know the internet or whatever in 1954 john hersey said well one of the reasons kids don't read it's not they can't read it's that they don't because books aimed at children are awful dick and jane lead these lives of you know terrible desperation the art is uninspiring it's a world that doesn't exist and you know the kids couldn't they at least get dr seuss or walt disney or somebody to at least illustrate dick and jane to make it more interesting well somebody who knows seuss reads this article and goes to seuss and doesn't ask seuss to illustrate dick and jane what he does is he goes to seuss and he says i want you to write and draw me a children's book a book that they read but the catch with this and this is what makes seuss so important moving forward the catch on this is because this is supposed to be a reading primer as people say it's a book that can be used in the classroom that means it has to have an educator approved reading list behind it it has to have age-appropriate words for reading level and you cannot diverge from this list if you want to make a word plural for example and it's not on the list as a plural you can't use it so it's putting a straight jacket on before you even start writing the book at least as far as your vocabulary goes so seuss has given this list of vocabulary words i'm going to say it's something around 300 vocabulary words and again it says you cannot deviate from this list but come up with a story using only these words well seuss looks at this list and stares at this list for year at least and can't come up with a story you know at one point he said something like i you know what if i want to do a story about a queen tiger well the word queen wasn't on the list and the word tiger isn't on the list and i wanted to do something about scaling a mountain well the word mountain's not on the list and scaling's not on the list and you know it was it was a real a real problem and so seuss always said later that he went through the list until he found words that rhymed and two of the first words that rhymed were cat and hat so seuss knew he had something of a story or a character at least in a cat with a hat and he takes another year from there to actually finish the book and agonizes over every single page doing this but if you go through cat and the hat you can see him working with that wordless there's one page for example where the cat stands on a ball which is where on the list and starts juggling and it's seuss downloading everything on that list he's juggling a cake a rake a plate a man um you know a boat a car he's juggling it's like seuss taking everything on that list and trying to get it on the page there so that book sells lights out i mean that is the moment that seuss can be a children's writer full time because this book teachers love it because it's got the educator approved wordless parents love it because unlike most children's books it's fun for adults to read and kids love it because they don't even realize that they're learning their vocabulary words with it it's a fun book to read it rhymes the pictures are great and it ain't dick and jane this is the big moment in seuss's career when he truly becomes dr seuss so cat and hat comes out in the spring of 1957 the grinch comes out in the fall of 1957 so you talk about hitting twice in one year now the grinch is not one of those books that's written with a word list seuss had what he called his big books that he was not inhibited by the word list but the grinch i think is such a fascinating book because seuss often said throughout his life that his favorite character was the grinch in fact his car the license plate of his car that he drove in california said grinch on the license plate what i love about the grinch is that you know remember part of the message behind the grinch is that christmas doesn't come from the store and i love that this book was written by somebody who spent the first part of his career probably telling you that christmas did come from the store i mean the guy was in the guy was in advertising it was very good at it so i think i think there's a little bit of seuss reckoning with himself in this story which is one of the reasons why i think he took it so personally could really sympathize with the grinch and the grinch coming around but it's a great example of seuss really working on an ending because seuss didn't like his books to be overtly preachy or messagey he often said you know again consistent with what he said in the 1949 lectures if you're trying to be preachy again kids are going to see you coming they're going to recognize immediately what you're up to they're going to fold up shop they're going to walk away like no kid wants to be preached to so when he got to the end of the grinch and was trying to figure out what happens after the grinch has kind of redeemed himself what do you end it with he was trying to keep it from being a little too religious if he could and which is why it ultimately ends with sort of the brotherhood of man where you see you know that in the cartoon they do it brilliantly when the star comes up but he's serving the roast beast at dinner so it's it's more of a family type ending than a than a christmasy ending per se but that was seuss working really hard with an ending one of my favorite stories about one of his later books is green eggs green eggs and ham because green eggs and ham comes about as a result of a bet between seuss and his editor at random house bennett surf and bennett surf loves the cat in the hat and i mean the cat in the hat is printing money doing just doing great and surf who adores sues bennett surf often talked about how there was only one real genius who worked for him at random house and he says that was dr seuss a high praise because he was publishing falter i think at the time too bennett surf says to dr seuss okay smart guy cat in the hat used about 200 unique words from your word list i'll bet you 50 bucks you can't write a book that uses less than 50 of those words and seuss says you're on and that book becomes green eggs and ham and look at the way green eggs and ham is put together it is repetition you don't even realize that the vocabulary is so limited because you are just constantly seeing the same words over and over again in different orders i am sam sam i am do you like green eggs and ham um would you like them with the fox would you like them in a box i would not like them with the fox i would not like them in a box it's just it's repetition using those same words over and over in a really interesting way seuss gets it in under the wire i think he's got 48 unique words in that book ultimately when he does it and he later on said that bennett surf didn't pay him his 50 bucks either but but green eggs and ham is written on a bet to really hamstring seuss with a very narrow educator approved word list and seuss tills it with green eggs and ham which is still to this day the best selling dr seuss book of all time and why not it's punchy it's fun again educator approved word list but you don't even realize that you're only seeing less than 50 unique words because what seuss does with so little in that is brilliant keeps that book moving again that's seuss that seuss worrying about the plot propelling things forward it's tormenting this poor guy into eating green eggs and ham that is what's driving that plot forward and as a student as a reader as a kid you can't turn those pages fast enough to see if they're going to get him to try green eggs and ham which he ultimately does it is everything seuss does well compressed down into that one single book and what a story you're hearing he's first challenged to write a book kids can't put down but limited to 300 educator approved words and from that constriction came creativity that happens all the time folks the less we have to choose from sometimes the better we choose and of course he finds these two words cat and hat he's looking for a rhyme and the rest is history then comes the grinch and then comes the biggest challenge of all his pal at his publishing company says let's see if he can do it in 50 words rather than 300 and of course the best seller of all time green eggs and ham well it was conceived as a result of a bet when we come back more of this remarkable story of how theodore geisel became dr seuss here on our american stories nfl plus premium is your ticket to the nfl off season with the first pick in the nfl draft catch all your favorite off-season coverage and stream exclusive content from the nfl draft training camp free agency and more relive the biggest plays from the season with full and condensed game replays he's in touchdown plus stay connected with 24 7 football news and coverage on nfl network sign up today at plus dot nfl.com terms and conditions apply ready to unlock a world of entertainment phillips roku tv has america's favorite tv streaming platform built in so you can watch live tv catch every game discover must-see shows and hit movies and get all the best streaming apps in one place like iheart for all your favorite music radio and podcasts watch what you want when you want immerse yourself in entertainment with premium 4k picture and sound for every budget with sizes for every room find your perfect phillips roku tv today online or at your local walmart and sams club hi i'm antonia blithe and this is 20 questions on deadline joining me today is allison brie welcome allison we got second place in my seventh grade lip sync contest for one of the songs on that album the one that was like you've already won me over oh that's a good one yeah it's like very slow all the options in spite of me like what did we do it's so slow don't forget to listen to 20 questions on the deadline thank you again allison thank you and we're back with our american stories and with brian j jones sharing the story of theodore geisel aka dr seuss back to brian with a final part of this story so seuss is one of these creatives who took his work very seriously there's a great quote from his wife helen that i think every writer can relate to or anybody who does anything creative i think can relate to and she often said he's miserable when he's writing a book and even more miserable when he's not there's nothing casual in a seuss book seuss would often start books realize they were going nowhere and then throw them at what he called his bone pile but seuss had this really tough work ethic sat down at the desk every single morning and sat there all day whether anything happened or not some days you know the ideas came and the workflow and other days nothing happened but he was going to sit in that office every single day of his life and seuss would you know do the rough sketches of his of his page and he would type out the rhymes and the narrative and glue it to the page and put it up on the wall and then he would stand back and stare at it and people told me who knew him would tell these great stories about how he always had a cigarette burning and he would put his hands in his back pockets with his palms in and he would lean way forward with that cigarette in his mouth and just stare at the pages on the wall he would step back and then he would walk over and he would move a page and he wouldn't even say anything seuss would sweat the way everything rhymed to make sure it scanned perfectly and you didn't have to read a word weird like you didn't have to put the stress if you had a three syllable word you didn't have to put the stress in the wrong place to make the rhyme scheme work that he didn't want you you know taking a word like refrigerator and having to say refrigerator to make the rhyme work he wanted it to be you know you would say the word refrigerator and it would it would still scan properly so seuss was very fussy about the way the words themselves worked now having said that even if the rhyme scanned perfectly if seuss stepped back and one of those lines on the page was significantly longer than the other seuss just didn't like the way that looked so he would start over he would rewrite the page but that's the way he worked on these books and sometimes it could take months and sometimes years to get it until he was perfectly happy with the book so seuss's artistic style is definitely unique seuss often said that that was him trying to draw realistically and it all came out wrong i mean he basically says he's doing the best he can with what he's got and that's what comes out at the other end now of course that's him being modest i think but it's definitely an inimitable style and it is one of those styles that when you see it you immediately know seuss you immediately you immediately know seuss work you know it's it's very subtle but you know you notice a lot of seuss's characters have eyelashes for example it's one of these weird little touches you see that makes it look susian so his artistic style is is him as he always said just doing the best he could with the way he knew how to draw but that love of language and that real fun sense of wordplay again i think a lot of that came from listening to his german relatives talking and just listening to the way those german words came tumbling out uh and how funny they could be and again if you wanted to make a german word make it explain something even more you didn't add words to a sentence you just added more letters to a word and you got these long drawn out ridiculous looking words i think seuss really got a kick out of that you know seuss is so funny and a little frustrating when throughout his life people would ask him you know where do you come up with you know where'd you come up with something like the lorax for example it's a perfect example he said well i drew him and he was clearly a lorax the most unhelpful answer possible but you know seuss didn't really have a hard time coming up with these crazy words his made-up names sound organic they sound like they're real words they don't sound like he's trying too hard i don't know where he gets that ability from again it could come from that love of language of listening to german words qualifying themselves over and over again but seuss is really really great at just coming up with a word like grinch or sneech or lorax or something that sounds like it already existed before seuss made it up seuss's wife helen is one of the most important people in his story sort of the unsung heroes and although he in his lifetime in her lifetime he sung her praises gave her plenty of credit on it she was a brilliant editor a brilliant writer in her own right she was one of the few people who could read his work in its rough form and walk back to him and just hold it in his face and say this doesn't work which which is a totally which is a tough place for a spouse to be in at times but helen was the one person who could be absolutely blunt with him who didn't bother sitting around and saying yes you're brilliant everything you do is wonderful she's the one who there's a great moment in one of the magazine interviewing that he does for example where the journalist actually reports the moment when he's sitting by the pool and helen walks out and hands him pages from i think the grinch and says you're making the who's look like bugs and seuss says something like well they are bugs and she knows the who's are people you know she's just not going to have it with him and so he might complain about it but he goes back and fixes it so she was the one you know his first and best reader she was the one who would go through it and you know help him keep on on course and tell him if things didn't work and tell him that she thought a rhyme was not quite right or if a drawing looked weird and he took her word seriously whatever she said he took to heart so she was one of his really important you know in his career one of his really important first editors and helen again like seuss was a great recruiter was great at going out identifying talent great at finding great writers and you know who could turn in these amazing manuscripts that she helped edit so she was really really important to his story in that regard on the professional side on the personal side helen couldn't have children so so dr seuss and helen never had any kids of their own and as seuss always said throughout his life you have them all entertain them it's rare when an artist gets to say goodbye to their readers on their own terms and seuss does that with oh the places you'll go seuss knew this was likely his last one his health had been declining seuss was a smoker his entire life and it gave him cancer of the tongue and then his jaw and he was in constant pain his teeth were coming loose at times and so seuss by the time he's working on other places go knows that this is likely his last one and it's an opportunity for him to say goodbye to his readers which again not every artist gets that opportunity you can see seuss putting everything he's got into that book there are pages there are big spreads inside that book where you've got characters that look like they stepped out of judge magazine from 1925 there's men you know with bowler hats off who look out of time and out of place and doing something something from the 1920s he's got little black cats that you should show up in his cartoons in there before you ever created the cat mad you could have little cats reacting in some of his books you know there's little homages to some of his other books going on in some of these other pages there's just there's a lot going on in the a lot of what people today would call easter eggs clues or little little hat tips to some of his earlier work and it's seuss sort of putting everything into this book as he's telling his reader you're amazing you're going to succeed in life but it's him saying goodbye it sells every graduation you know twice a year for spring graduation and fall graduation that book's constantly selling everybody gets promoted they get that book but it was seuss it was his valedictory message it was him telling everyone goodbye you're great you're brilliant go have fun and and that was him turning the lights out as he said that not every artist gets to do that i mean what a great way for seuss to go out on a book that again became that big and is really that beautiful really a fantastic piece of susan work so i i think part of the reason seuss is timeless is because all of his really great books sort of speak to something eternal in all of us and something we can all relate to i mean every one of us in our life at some point has been sitting inside on a rainy day with nothing to do and just wishing something interesting would happen and you know and that's that's where the cat in the hat comes from he comes in on the rainy day and causes chaos which he cleans up as seuss always points out there's something eternal about that there's something eternal about scratching your head and wondering about the holiday and what is this all about and isn't this about more than just giving people things i mean that's an eternal question there's so much in seuss that just touches something inside all of us no matter where we are where we're sitting what part of the world we're in seuss's books don't look like anything else they don't look like they're taking place in a certain time period even something like the cat in the hat that was written in the 50s and actually has you know human children in it there's something about the way it's drawn that doesn't look like it's 1957 you know i mean there's something still timeless in that artistic style that he's got seuss's books are fun seuss just feels like he's existing on his own plane the entire time it's like the susian universe you know it's got his own rules that you seem to get inherently when you visit and a terrific job on the production and editing by madison derricott and a special thanks to brian j jones author of becoming dr seuss theodore geisel and the making of an american imagination go to amazon or the usual suspects and buy this book we learned that his bride was a real unsung hero a brilliant editor and writer and one of the few people who could be blunt with her husband this doesn't work she would say she was seuss's first and best reader we learned from helen that he's miserable when he's writing but more miserable when he's not and then that story about oh the places you will go i never knew this i never knew it was his farewell book and he did it in classic susian style go have fun kids you're wonderful goodbye so simple wasn't the german language and his love of it his love of rhythm his love of drawing was it frank capra was it chuck jones was it all of the above and of course that god-given talent that imagination well you be the judge the story of theodore geisel known as dr seuss here on our american stories nfl plus premium is your ticket to the nfl off season with the first pick in the nfl draft catch all your favorite off-season coverage and stream exclusive content from the nfl draft training camp free agency and more relive the biggest plays from the season with full and condensed game replays he's in touchdown plus stay connected with 24 7 football news and coverage on nfl network sign up today at plus dot nfl.com terms and conditions apply ready to unlock a world of entertainment phillips roku tv has america's favorite tv streaming platform built in so you can watch live tv catch every game discover must-see shows and hit movies and get all the best streaming apps in one place like iheart for all your favorite music radio and podcasts watch what you want when you want immerse yourself in entertainment with premium 4k picture and sound for every budget with sizes for every room find your perfect phillips roku tv today online or at your local walmart and sam's club hi i'm antonia blithe and this is 20 questions on deadline joining me today is allison brie welcome allison we got second place in my seventh grade lip sync contest for one of the songs on that album the one that was like you've already won me over oh that's a good one yeah it's like very slow all the options in spite of me like what did we do it's so slow don't forget to listen to 20 questions on the deadline thank you again allison thank you
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-19 04:26:32 / 2024-03-19 04:44:56 / 18

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