Odds and ends


The following is adapted from a blog post I wrote two years ago yesterday:

–The oldest teens at the dawn of the rock ‘n’ roll era are now turning 77 years of age.

–The youngest voters when Ronald Reagan was first elected president will turn 51 this year.

–My paternal grandfather was born during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

–Does anyone who doesn’t work in local television call the Rockford area “the stateline”?

–Wouldn’t you love to see a debate between Harvard Law School graduates Barack Obama and Ted Cruz (with no interruptions allowed)?

–The TV networks are run by young people with attention deficit disorder. What else could explain all the annoying distractions in the corners or on the bottom of the screen during almost any program you watch?

–When did the verb “fail” become a noun?

–The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with the virgin birth of Jesus.

–For most of my life, Thomas Jefferson was a great liberal hero to me. But the more I learn about him, the less I like him.

–If memory serves, the biggest money-losing concert in the history of Rockford’s Metro Centre featured Frank Sinatra.

–Baseball pitchers who take more than 20 seconds to get the sign from the catcher and throw the damn ball should be be beaten with sticks.

–Los Angeles, Calif., which is on the West Coast, is east of Reno, Nev., which is more than 200 miles from the West Coast.

–When did “in the future” become “going forward”?

–Part of Canada is south of Rockford.

–I prefer going to movie theaters during the winter. It’s easier then to bring candy and soda pop in my coat pockets. You have to be mad at your money to patronize the concession stand.

–St. Paul never saw Jesus (except, according to Scripture, after the resurrection).

–Have you ever heard a really convincing conspiracy theory about the assassination of John F. Kennedy? I haven’t.

–You may know where Jo Daviess County is, but I’ll bet you don’t know who Jo Daviess was. (Actually, there are counties in four states named for him.)

–By far, the greatest determinant of what religion a person embraces is where they were born.

–When did signs become “signage”?

–Rudy Giuliani was married to his cousin for 16 years, but the union was anulled when he decided that they were too closely related. They had no children.

–Why do local TV reporters start so many sentences with the word “now”? (“Now, the committee will meet next Tuesday.” “Now, the investigation shows that the gunshot wounds…”) Is that some consultant’s idea of conveying immediacy?

–The greatest African-American male singer of all time was Nat King Cole. The greatest such female was Ella Fitzgerald.

–One of the most famous players in baseball history was court-martialed while serving in the Army during World War II. Can you name him?

–Despite a widespread myth to the contrary, most climate scientists of the 1970s did not believe the planet was cooling.

–Why do some people refer to our planet as “the” Earth? We don’t refer to “the” Mars or “the” Saturn.

–It’s good to know that I’ll be dead and gone before soccer becomes as popular in America as it is so many other parts of the world.

–There’s nothing in the Book of Genesis (or anywhere else in the Bible) about Adam and Eve eating an apple.

–Why do some people pronounce the “t” in “often”? Don’t they notice that most people don’t?

–Ask a friend some time how many animals of each species Moses took on the Ark with him. If the person says two (or any other number), tell him Moses wasn’t on the Ark. It was Noah.

–Christopher Columbus did not set out to prove that Earth was round. Most educated people of his time already knew that.

–Do you know anyone who calls the Rockford area “the Rock River Valley”?

–Many of the Founding Fathers literally hated one another.

–Why do so many people pronounce “interesting” with four syllables instead of just three (“in-ter-est-ing” instead of “in-trest-ing”)? After all, you don’t pay “in-ter-est” on a loan. You pay “in-trest.”

–In the first 20 years of television, nobody in a situation comedy ever went to the bathroom (except, perhaps, to bathe or brush their teeth). Archie Bunker broke that taboo.

–Evolution is not a theory about the origin of life.

–Who’s the only person for whom two different Illinois counties are named?

–Why is it called a “drive through” if you have to stop?

–Considering the location of the cradle of humankind, everyone in this country is an African-American.

–As the crow flies, the southern tip of Illinois is closer to Texas than to Chicago.

–People who say the United States is not a democracy (mostly right-wingers) don’t know what they’re talking about. They just hate the D-word.

–The chance that at least one of your ancestors was named Barack is not as remote as you think.

–No sooner was the U.S. Constitution drafted and ratified than the Founding Fathers began disagreeing about what it really meant. That argument has never ended.

–On a per-capita basis, Rockford experienced more arrests of suspected radicals in the infamous Palmer Raids of 1920 than any other American city.

–Illinois is a pretty long state. It stretches from north of Cape Cod, Mass., to south of Richmond, Va.

–My father was born at the dawn of the automobile age and died at the dawn of the television age.

–If there is an exception to every rule, as the old saying goes, then there’s also an exception to the rule that every rule has an exception. Which means, I guess, that there are no rules — just exceptions.

–Fables of the American West having been settled by rugged individualists without government assistance are a total crock. The reality was quite the opposite. But the myth lives on in the minds of militia types and other make-believe cowboys.

–Why do cops always refer to people as “individuals”?

–The most overrated English-language novel of the 20th century is “Ulysses,” by James Joyce. The most underrated is “Studs Lonigan,” by James T. Farrell. The latter, which actually is a trilogy (“Young Lonigan,” “The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan,” and “Judgment Day”) profoundly influenced me in my formative years, as did four other Farrell novels about Danny O’Neill, a minor character in “Studs Lonigan.”

–”Articulate” and “eloquent” are not the same thing. Michele Bachmann has sometimes been articulate, but never eloquent.

–Some people get angry when I say that Joe DiMaggio was the most overrated player in baseball history. Sure, he was good, very good, but not nearly as good as he and his most devoted admirers pretended.

–America is much better off with just two major political parties than it would be with more. Besides, any time a third party arises, it’s quickly absorbed by one or both of the other two.

–Why anyone would reside, by choice, in the American Sunbelt is beyond me.

–The Chicago Democratic Machine did not steal the presidency for John Kennedy in 1960. Even if Kennedy had lost Illinois, he still would have won the election.

–When my father was born, the word “awful” was not a pejorative. It was a synonym for “awesome.” In those days, it was not bad manners to tell a woman that she looked awful.

–Anyone who says all politicians lie or all politicians are corrupt is either too lazy to pay close attention to what’s going on or too stupid to understand it.

–Catholics and Protestants have divided the list of the so-called Ten Commanments in different ways. Indeed, the Bible has no consistent set of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus, for example, there are as many as 15 “statements.”

–Speaking of the Decalogue, I know a Rockford politician who once said that our right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Commandment.

–Most of you have heard of Charles Manson, the leader of the group that committed the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969 in California. But very few people still living know that the Rockford police chief in 1942 also was named Charles Manson.

–Try this on a friend: Ask him or her to quickly name the only president born in Illinois. Most people will say Abraham Lincoln. Actually, it was Ronald Reagan.

–One word we are forced to mispronounce, lest we sound like bumpkins, is “valet.” The preferred pronunciation rhymes with “ballot,” not with “ballet.”

–Joan of Arc was not executed for heresy — rather for allegedly wearing men’s clothing in prison. I guess that was a little too butchy for some of the hierarchy of her time.

–Do you realize that lots of young adults today have little or no idea of who Johnny Carson was? Speaking of which, I once worked with two college graduates who had never heard of Spencer Tracy.

–The Boston Tea Party was a protest against a tax cut, not a tax increase.


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