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February 11, 2006

30 Minutes of Fame

“In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” -Andy Warhol

For some people 15 minutes of fame just isn't enough. Due to a favorable spelling of their names some people remain a part of our consciousness many years after their first 15 minutes have been forgotten. Take, for example, H H Munro, the great short story writer of the beginning of the last century. As good as his first 15 minutes were, I bet I if I asked my wife, kids, and 10 of the people Leno might interview on the street, 99% of them wouldn't be able to tell me a single story H H Munro wrote. However, at some point in his career he began going by the pen name 'Saki'. Brilliant move. This, of course, guaranteed him another 15 minutes of fame. Thanks to crosswordese those of us devoted to doing crosswords daily may still not recognize a single story he wrote, but we recognize his name because we see it about four times a year.

Saki isn't the only writer enjoying more than his fair share of minutes. How about James Agee? Leon Uris? Emile Zola? The playwright, Clifford Odets? William Motter Inge? Or the diarist Anais Nin? How many works can you name by these writers? If you weren't a crossword puzzle solver, would you even recognize these names? Yet, due to crosswordese, they're enjoying their second 15 minutes of fame.

And it's not just writers... What about the artists? Hans Arp, Paul Klee, and Max Ernst each are enjoying a another 15 minutes of fame – and this time it has nothing to do with their art. And then there's the Harper's Bazaar illustrator, Romain de Tirtoff, whose pseudonym, Erte, has propelled him to the upper regions of cruciverbalist consciousness.

That's not all. There are others from all walks of life enjoying double fame minutes: Nobel prize winner Niels Bohr; Architects I M Pei and Eero Saarinen; Cartoonist Thomas Nast; Baseballer Mel Ott; and even a couple animals, Asta and Elsa.

I'm still waiting for my first 15 minutes. While I'm waiting I'm already thinking about the second 15 minutes... 'Stynsberg' just isn't going to do it if I want to achieve double minutes. I'll have to come up with some kind of pseudonym. Something similar to Saki or Erte... hmmm... maybe a combination of the two... Erski?

Paul Stynsberg, © 2006