A Twain of Twains

by wjw on February 25, 2013

Last night I met the actor Hal Holbrook.  Which is less impressive than it sounds: he met a lot of people last night, at a meet-and-greet backstage after one of his performances as Mark Twain.

Holbrook is 89 years old.  He first came to Albuquerque in 1941.  He’s been doing Mark Twain longer than I’ve been alive.

I’ve seen Holbrook’s Twain three times, the first time on television, the other times live in concert.  He chooses different material for each concert, so in the concerts I’ve seen he only rarely repeats himself.

For the first half of the concert, he lambasted Congress.  For the second half, he lambasted religion.  Though drawn exclusively from Twain’s works, the message was contemporary.

(As contemporary as Bill Maher, who I saw in concert last week, and who lambasted Congress for the first half of his concert, and religion the second.  Barring the mention of political blogs or television, the messages had an eerie similarity.)

My eyes are still sensitive to light, and I found Mr. Twain’s white suit blinding, so I had to watch the concert through dark glasses.  Which worked out perfectly well.

So I hung around the Green Room door, and by and by it opened, and a number of hopefuls were ushered onto the stage to shake Mr. Holbrook’s hand.  Which I did.

I also presented him with a copy of my Twain story “The Boolean Gate.”  I figured he’d enjoy it, and maybe even make a movie, what the hell.  (Though how many 89-year-olds get movies made, I can’t tell you.)

I inscribed the book, “From the second-best Twain imitator.”

Because while I may have an ego, I’m not delusional.

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