"Malice is not acceptable, hatred is," said Martha Gellhorn who was one of Ernest Hemingway's most intelligent wives.
Oh, I don't know. Hatred is a terrible emotion.
OK, let's give up commenting on politics and the election until after Nov. 6.
Some people want me to stick to gossip but frankly, I can't. There isn't any gossip right now worth going on about. At least, the political game has been lively and the principal players are all fascinating, even the ones I find kind of weird.
PLAYBOY this month contains a long, fascinating interview with the British writer of all those quintessentially American Jack Reacher thrillers, Lee Child.
Mr. Child professes to be very pleased indeed with the choice of Tom Cruise to play his wandering hero. (He thinks the outraged fans should calm down.) And here's what he answered when asked, since his novels all take place in the United States, whether he feels a sense of patriotism toward this country?
"Being an immigrant I'm immensely patriotic about America. First of all I love the diversity of people. This is a mongrel race, and you find tremendous vitality in that ... even if somebody's not beautiful, they're vivid -- dark skin or big dramatic eyes. Americans are much more vital than the inbred, pasty-faced people of Britain.
"But most of all what I love about America is that there's a strand of decency and normality in almost everyone. Generally speaking, Americans are full of kindness and generosity and goodwill."
Nice. Very nice. But apparently Mr. Child hasn't been around too many politicians.
SHORT SHOTS: Kevin Costner, who works when he wants, in what he wants, in any medium, and in roles of any size, will star and direct a thriller about a Secret Service agent. Right now, I can tell you it will be long. When I spoke to Costner a few years ago, he shrugged off criticism that his movies had "too much plot." He said, "As far as I'm concerned, there can never be 'too much plot.'" ... Is Gwyneth Paltrow going to make a movie about the great '80s girl group, The Go-Gos? Well, she can sing, but let's hope this is a less depressing experience than her ill-fated attempt at playing some ersatz combo of Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette in "Country Strong." ... Finally, according to In Touch magazine, that puny vampire version of Elizabeth and Richard, Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, have reconciled. Maybe it was con job, all along?
SO, TODAY we'll consider some history. And it happened not so very many moons ago, back in the late 20th century.
You do remember the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who spent their time, after he abdicated the British throne, traveling around the world to international watering spots and visiting on everybody else's dime whenever they could.
After World War II, the Duke and Duchess were regulars in El Morocco/Stork Club society, just before it cratered. They had to stay somewhere in keeping with their station and so they always tried to be in the Waldorf Towers. When they came to New York, they would invariably be invited out for dinner somewhere they didn't have to pay.
The Duke confided in Bill Fine, who ran a cosmetic company, that the Waldorf was too expensive. "It costs so much money plus tip for the Duchess and me to have coffee and toast each morning," he complained. He went on to tell Mr. Fine that one morning he had walked down to the Lexington Avenue Drugstore to check on their breakfast plan.
There, the counterman said to the man who had been king of England, "Ain't you the Duke?" When the Duke fessed up, he told the counterman his problem. It was costing at least $25 for two people to have coffee and toast in the hotel. (Those were the days!)
The latter exclaimed, "Relax, Duke. The Drugstore will deliver coffee and toast to the Waldorf Towers for only $10." And that is how the exulted Duke of Windsor and the Duchess began to have breakfast in their fancy hotel for only a few bucks.
WHAT THE heck is this? Referring to the large white "thing" my friend Kevan Kenney discovered in the high grass near his house in Saddle River, N.J.
I was amazed at this big whitish "watermelon." It turns out that calvatia gigantea can be found popping up in the fall, early to mid-October, and it is a "fruiting" body of fungus. It is a giant puffball and can grow to three feet in diameter. These form large circles, or "fairy rings," in the woods.
Experts claim you can cut them in strips, fry them and they are delicious. But wild mushrooms and fungi can be poisonous, so I wouldn't advise such a thing. But they are not alien pods. So relax all you "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" fans.
OUR FAVORITE PERSON in all of Mayor Bloomberg's NYC office is one, Megan Sheekey. She's just about the most wonderful "official someone" I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Megan is wed to music and sound designer Shelby Gaines and the two of them welcomed a new baby, Rosie, born Sept. 29.
With 3-year-old sister Lucy Bo and 18-month-old Belle, things are very busy in the Sheekey/Gaines household. Congratulations and welcome to Rosie!
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)