OPINION: George Gershwin found it impossible to believe that anyone could find his music to be anything less than sublime.

Once, after playing a new song for a friend, he asked:"How did you like it?"

The other made a face.

"It's not up to your standard, George," was his blunt reply. "As a matter-of-fact, you've never done worse. The melody is weak and monotonous. Take my advice - tear it up and start all over."

There was a moment of silence. Then Gershwin said:

"Now give me your honest opinion."

MADNESS: At times, Alexandre Dumas would lose patience with his longtime servant, who was not overly respectful. Once, after the man had ignored an order, the novelist exploded:

"Are you mad or am I?"

"Surely, sir," purred the other, "you would not keep a servant who is mad?"