Dear Bob and Linda --

As for ''Happy Birthday:''

I once led a Great Books Study Group on Cape Cod, and we read and discussed Homer's Odyssey. I found the behavior of Odysseus after arriving home unexpectedly from the Trojan War hilariously pig-headed and somehow Hemingway-esque. And then I remembered the blowhard father of a girl I dated in high school, who had heard of huge rubies to be found in the Amazon Rain Forest, and wanted to quit his job and go look for them. The rest is history.

We would be running still at the Lucille Lortel Theatre down in the village, if Equity hadn't called an off-Broadway strike which went on for months. We had had full houses every night. We were already paying more than what the union was asking for, but the theater owner, in sympathy with other theater owners, closed us down. Our cast, Kevin McCarthy and Marsha Mason and Bill Hickey and on and on had become as adept and merry an ensemble as the Harlem Globetrotters. A movie was based on my masterpiece, but without our cast it was a stinker.

I can't attend the opening, but break both legs.

Oct. 17, 2001

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