Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The aliens aren’t coming. They’re already here.

So say 20,000 (and increasing every day) “esoterics” gathering near the village of Bugarach, France. According to one of them, a former teacher named Jean (pronounced, in that irritating way the French have, Zhawnh) who lives in a yurt in the forest (you read it here first), the aliens are inside Pic de Bugarach, a sacred mountain near the village. Esoterics reportedly believe that the mountain is home to a race of alien beings who (a) like to sail their spaceships on a huge interior mountain lake and (b) will emerge to rescue the gathered humans and transport them to a new civilization.

Just so you know, here is the mountain in question:

(Photo by Thierry Strub, 14 November 2007. Used under the terms of Wikipedia’'s Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but it all has something to do with the fact that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012, and certain people have decided that the end of the world will occur on that date. I mean, the Mayans have never been wrong before, have they??

Here (3:14) is a segment that aired on CNN.

“The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another, a new spiritual world,” Zhawnh said, refusing to give his last name because of the increasing local controversy. “The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering,” he said, adding that Bugarach is “one of the major chakras of the earth, a place devoted to welcome the energies of tomorrow.”

As Bill Cosby once said in a skit about Noah when God told him it was going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights, “Riiight.”

The next step will be up to the aliens.



Monday, March 26, 2012

Like a circle in a spiral

With thanks to Elizabeth Stanford-Sharpe for directing me to it, here is what I now consider to be the definitive version of “The Windmills of Your Mind” (3:54) sung by Barbra Streisand. Oddly, her rendition is nearly twice the length of Noel Harrison’s original (2:18) even though the lyrics are identical.

Here she is earlier in her career, taking “I'm Five!” at a slightly faster tempo.

I have noticed over the years that listening to Barbra Streisand tends to affect people in one of two ways. It either (a) soothes their troubled minds or (b) makes their heads explode.

Just like her politics.

Without looking, can you name Barbra Streisand’s husbands?

The real question, though, is why would you want to?


[Editor’s note. Barbra Streisand had a long relationship with Jon Peters, a hair stylist and movie producer, but she has been married only two times, to actor Elliott Gould (born Elliot Goldstein) and actor James Brolin (born Craig Kenneth Bruderlin). It is entirely possible, therefore, that she has uttered the words “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” in normal conversation.--RWP]

Friday, March 23, 2012

Your roving reporter reports, and having reported, moves on.

We cannot speak too loudly, as we are reporting from behind enemy lines in Alabamistan once again, and one never knows who might be listening in these parts. Just today we have seen crows and squirrels and geese (oh, my!) but not one banjo has reared its ugly head. We have it on good report, though, that they are all about us and may not be completely enthralled with our presence in their midst.

In addition, one must remain vigilant at all times here, as two major powers continue to vie for the affections of the populace. For example, one could suddenly find oneself in great difficulty if one happened to display or even speak in friendly tones concerning the color crimson in an area dominated by supporters of orange and blue. In a neighboring county recently, so our spies tell us, two fishermen who had intended to spend a quiet afternoon fishing in the shallows of Lake Logan Martin were set upon by an orange-clad group shouting "War Eagle!" and have not been seen or heard from since. Families along the shore said the men had been laughing and exchanging jokes just before the band of marauders swept in and overwhelmed them. According to one witness who assured this reporter that he had no reason to lie, the last words one of the fishermen had said to the other were either "Droll, Clyde" or "Troll, Clyde."

Perhaps one day peace will come to Alabamistan, but for now, sadly, the war continues.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You make turn your name all the mills of my heart.

Take a couple of minutes and listen to Noel Harrison singing “The Windmills of Your Mind” (2:18) from 1968.

[Editor's note. Noel Harrison is the son of Rex Harrison of My Fair Lady fame. Many years ago, Mrs. RWP and I attended a performance of My Fair Lady at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale in which the part of Henry Higgins was played by Noel Harrison, Rex's son. As regards this post, that fact is completely irrelevant. --RWP]

The music for “The Windmills of Your Mind” was composed by Michel Legrand.

The English lyrics are by Marilyn and Allen Bergman:


THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND

Round, like a circle in a spiral,
Like a wheel within a wheel,
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel,
Like a snowball down a mountain
Or a carnival balloon,
Like a carousel that's turning,
Running rings around the moon,
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face,
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space,
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind,

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of its own,
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone,
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream,
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream,
Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face,
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind,

Keys that jingle in your pocket,
Words that jangle in your head,
Why did summer go so quickly?
Was it something that you said?
Lovers walk along a shore
And leave their footprints in the sand,
Is the sound of distant drumming
Just the fingers of your hand?
Pictures hanging in a hallway
Or the fragment of a song,
Half-remembered names and faces
But to whom do they belong?
When you knew that it was over
You were suddenly aware,
That the autumn leaves were turning
To the colour of her hair,

A circle in a spiral,
A wheel within a wheel,
Never ending or beginning,
On an ever-spinning reel,
As the images unwind,
Like the circles that you find,
In the windmills of your mind.


They are nothing at all like the original French lyrics, which were written by Eddy Marnay and published under the title “Les moulins de mon coeur” (“The Mills of My Heart”):


LES MOULINS DE MON COEUR

Comme une pierre que l’on jette
Dans l’eau vive d'un ruisseau
Et qui laisse derrière elle
Des milliers de ronds dans l’eau
Comme un manège de lune
Avec ses chevaux d’étoiles
Comme un anneau de Saturne
Un ballon de carnaval
Comme le chemin de ronde
Que font sans cesse les heures
Le voyage autour du monde
D’un tournesol dans sa fleur
Tu fais tourner de ton nom
Tous les moulins de mon coeur.

Comme un écheveau de laine
Entre les mains d’un enfant
Ou les mots d’une rengaine
Pris dans les harpes du vent
Comme un tourbillon de neige
Comme un vol de goélands
Sur des forêts de Norvège
Sur des moutons d’océan
Comme le chemin de ronde
Que font sans cesse les heures
Le voyage autour du monde
D’un tournesol dans sa fleur
Tu fais tourner de ton nom
Tous les moulins de mon coeur.

Ce jour-là près de la source
Dieu sait ce que tu m’as dit
Mais l’été finit sa course
L’oiseau tomba de son nid
Et voila que sur le sable
Nos pas s’effacent déjà
Et je suis seul à la table
Qui résonne sous mes doigts
Comme un tambourin qui pleure
Sous les gouttes de la pluie
Comme les chansons qui meurent
Aussitôt qu’on les oublie
Et les feuilles de l’automne
Rencontre des ciels moins bleus
Et ton absence leur donne
La couleur de tes cheveux.

Une pierre que l’on jette
Dans l’eau vive d’un ruisseau
Et qui laisse derrière elle
Des milliers de ronds dans l’eau
Au vent des quatre saisons
Tu fais tourner de ton nom
Tous les moulins de mon coeur.


While translate.google.com’s translation may not be exact, it is close enough for government work:


THE MILLS OF MY HEART

Like a stone that is thrown
In the living water of a stream
And that leaves behind
Thousands of Ripples
As an amusement moon
With horses of stars
Like a ring of Saturn
A carnival ball
As the circular path
What are the hours over
The trip around the world
From a sunflower in bloom
You make turn your name
All the mills of my heart.

Like a skein of wool
The hands of a child
Or the words of a song
Caught in the wind harps
As a flurry of snow
Like a flight of gulls
On forests of Norway
Sheep on ocean
As the circular path
What are the hours over
The trip around the world
From a sunflower in bloom
You make turn your name
All the mills of my heart.

That day near the source
God knows what you said
But the summer came to a stop
The bird fell from its nest
And here on the sand
Our footsteps disappear already
And I'm alone at the table
That resonates with my fingers
Crying like a tambourine
Under the drops of rain
As the songs that die
Soon be forgotten
And autumn leaves
Encounter less blue skies
And your absence gives them
The color of your hair.

A stone that is thrown
In the living water of a stream
And that leaves behind
Thousands of Ripples
Upwind of the four seasons
You make turn your name
All the mills of my heart.


As I mentioned earlier, the French lyrics by Eddie Marnay are nothing at all like the English lyrics by the Bergmans. Just for the heck of it, I tried a second translator, Yahoo!’s Babelfish, with the following results:


MILLS OF MY HEART

Like a stone that l’ one throws
In l’ running water d’ a brook
And which leaves behind it
Thousands of rounds in l’ water
Like a moon horse-gear
With its horses d’ stars
Like a Saturn’s ring
A balloon of carnival
Like the covered way
What makes the hours unceasingly
The voyage around the world
D’ a sunflower in its flower
You make turn of your name
All mills of my heart.

Like a wool hank
Between the hands d’ a child
Or the words d’ a rengaine
Taken in the toothings-stone of the wind
Like an eddy of snow
Like a flight of seagulls
On forests of Norway
On sheep d’ ocean
Like the covered way
What makes the hours unceasingly
The voyage around the world
D’ a sunflower in its flower
You make turn of your name
All mills of my heart.

This day close to the source
God knows what you m’ ace known as
But l’ summer finishes its race
L’ bird fell from its nest
And here that on sand
Our steps s’ erase already
And I am alone with the table
Who resounds under my fingers
As a tambourine which cries
Under the drops of the rain
As the songs which die
At once qu’ they are forgotten
And sheets of l’ autumn
Meet less blue ciels
And your absence gives them
The color of your hair.

A stone that l’ one throws
In l’ running water d’ a brook
And which leaves behind it
Thousands of rounds in l’ water
With the four season old wind
You make turn of your name
All mills of my heart.


This is just one person’s opinion, of course, but I think Yahoo!’s Babelfish translator ought to be be thrown onto the trash heap of internet history along with the forests of Norway and the sheep d’ ocean.

And the moral of today’s post, kiddies, should be obvious: Always try to stay upwind of the four seasons.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

Think the world is going to hell in a handbasket? You're not alone:

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words...When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.” [1]

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders...They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up delicacies at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.” [2]

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?” [3]

“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone knew everything and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for girls, they are forward, immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior and dress.” [4]

These four quotations prove one thing and one thing only. Okay, maybe two [things].

First, people like to complain.

Second, the wild youth of today always become the stodgy old geezers of tomorrow.

As proof, here are the sources of the quotations:

[1] Hesiod, Greek poet (8th century BC)

[2] Attributed to Socrates (5th century BC) by Plato (4th century BC)

[3] Plato (4th century BC)

[4] Attributed to Peter the Hermit, Catholic priest (11th century AD)

...which leads us to the title of this post. It is an old French proverb that means, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” (Literal translation: ”The more it changes, the more it is the same thing.”)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Speaking of schnozzolas,...

...here’s Jimmy Durante’s:


...and here’s W. C. Fields’s:


...and here’s the greatest schnozzola of all, longer than Cyrano de Bergerac’s, longer even than Pinocchio’s prevaricating proboscis, ladies and gentlemen, I present:


Seabiscuit’s!

[Editor’s note. Only humans and horses participated in this competition. No elephant submitted an entry form, although if one had been received, it would have been reviewed for completeness and considered along with the rest. --RWP]

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sometimes an apple just needs to fall on your head.

Thanks to a blogger named Adam Palmer and a link to his blog that I found this morning over at Internet Monk, I have come into possession of a fascinating list.

In 1662, when he was a 19-year-old student at Trinity College, Cambridge, Isaac Newton wrote in his notebook a list of 57 sins he had recently committed -- 48 before Whitsunday, and 9 since.

I urge each of you to read the list, and then “consider thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, King James Version).

I’m just kidding, but only sort of.

The moral of today’s post is this:

Never lie about a louse, or use someone else’s towel, or even think of doing something untoward in a kimnel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sometimes you can’t believe your own eyes.

I thought a comment from Katherine DeChevalle on my March 12th post about city abbreviations deserved a post of its own.

That little town in Wales that Yorkshire Pudding is so fond of, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, may appear to the untrained eye to have 58 letters (I’ll wait while you count them -- go ahead, you know you want to), but in reality it has only 51, because in the Welsh alphabet -- and it is a Welsh word, after all -- ch, ng and ll count as single letters. [Editor's note. This is not a unique phenomenon in the world of alphabets. In Albanian, for example, dh, gj, nj, rr, sh, th, xh and zh all count as single letters. I am not kidding. --RWP]

On the other hand, as Katherine has kindly pointed out to us, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu (sorry, it wouldn’t fit on one line), a town in New Zealand, has 57 letters that actually count as 57 letters. Ya gotta love those Polynesians or Maoris or whatever they are.

Kate sent along a handy-dandy pronunciation guide in the form of this phonetically-spelled example:

Toe-mar-tar-far-car-tar-ngee-h­aa-ngaar-core-o-o-tar-mar-tee-­ah-poor-ky-fear-nu-ar-key-tar-­nar-tar-who

People, I may be crazy (don’t answer that), but I don’t see any R at all in the original word and Kate’s phonetic example is replete, I might even say rife, with the letter R. I can only conclude that Enzedders talk funny. (In my country, the phonetic example would probably be Toe-mah-tah-fah-cah-tah and so forth.)

Luckily for us, Kate also supplied us with a spoken example. And for all you slow learners out there, the word is spoken not once but three times.

So click here to hear New Zealand’s longest town name, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu (oops, it happened again), spoken out loud three times.

The announcers will probably never say it at the Olympics in London this summer, but it’s U.K. 0, New Zealand 1.

For those who care, Taumata etc. means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Some things just never get old

...and I never tire of reading Dave Barry when he goes into his “Ask Mr. Language Person” mode.

Here, from The Miami Herald, is Dave’s column from November 10, 2010, which first appeared in The Miami Herald way back on April 9, 1989.

Here, from the New York Times, is Dave’s column from October 9, 2004.

Here, from (I kid you not) the Arab News, is Dave’s column from May 28, 2005.

And here, from a website called Anvari.org, is an undated column of Dave’s.

I think I pointed you toward “Ask Mr. Language Person” a couple of years ago, but with my sides aching from laughing and my barely-suppressed giggles threatening to become full-blown uncontrollable guffaws, I am unable at this time to point you to that link.

If you want to read more of Dave Barry’s “Ask Mr. Language Person” you will just have to Google him yourself.

There is method in my madness. I’m just trying to put us all in a good mood so that we can be ready for whatever the Ides of March may bring.

(La Mort de César (The Death of Caesar), oil on canvas, 1867,
by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland)

Monday, March 12, 2012

...little A, double L, A, S.

I was reading one of Punk Chopstick’s posts recently in which she mentioned having taken a nine-hour train trip to KL. Because I happen to know that Punk moved from the U.S. to Malaysia, I understood that she meant the city of Kuala Lumpur.

But does everyone understand that?

I started thinking -- always a dangerous activity -- and wondered how many other cities are easily identified far and wide by their initials or an abbreviation. Here in the U.S., for example, people fly from NYC to LA, or to SF, or even to NO and SLC (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Salt Lake City).

People in Minnesota know that MPLS means Minneapolis.

In Missouri, KC and STL mean Kansas City and St. Louis.

All Texans know that Big D is Dallas. My, oh, yes.

Southern Californians recognize the initials OC and Georgians recognize ATL.

But do other people?

What are some examples of abbreviations in your neck of the woods that the locals recognize immediately but that might cause quizzical looks on visitors’ faces?

Here are some place names to ponder while you’re thinking:




...and we mustn’t forget:









(Click to enlarge)

That little town in Wales, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, is the longest officially recognized place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world, having 58 letters (51 letters in the Welsh alphabet, where ch, ng and ll count as single letters).

According to Wikipedia, the name means [St.] Mary’s Church (Llanfair) [in] the hollow (pwll) of the white hazel (gwyngyll) near (goger) the rapid whirlpool (y chwyrndrobwll) [and] the church of [St.] Tysilio (llantysilio) by the red cave ([a]g ogo goch).

A plucky lot, the Welsh.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The exodus has begun



No, not that one.

I’m talking about the apparent exodus from my blog.

After peaking (not peeking, and I want to make that perfectly clear) at 92 followers, the total dropped to 91 last week and to 90 this morning.

So this is it, then. The beginning of The Long Goodbye.

It is painful...


...and so unnecessary...


...but it is what it is.

I wish things could have been different.

Was it something I said?

Was it something I did?

In the words of a writer named Daniel O’Brien (in “Robert Altman: Hollywood Survivor”), The Long Goodbye is “a study of a moral and decent man cast adrift in a selfish, self-obsessed society where lives can be thrown away without a backward glance ... and any notions of friendship and loyalty are meaningless.”

Kind of like me and my erstwhile blogging friends.

That’s okay. I don’t care. As Alice said at the end of her long journey, “You’re nothing but a pack of cards!”

But the impending demise will take awhile yet. At the rate it’s going, if I lose one follower each week and add no new ones, I will be speaking into thin air around the end of 2013.

If a blog falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?

At least I can begin planning now for my future.

I’m going to take up curling while there’s still time.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

You there in the back, I see your hand.

***in response to Shooting Parrots waving wildly***

In the comments section of my last post (which I hope was not my last post, if you know what I mean), Ian what’s-his-name from Lancashire who calls himself Shooting Parrots for reasons
I won’t go into had two excellent questions, and I said I would answer them in my next post.

So I will.

His questions were:

1. Exactly who covers the cost of these pre-election elections? Is it the state (the government, I mean) or is it the party?

2. And what would happen if there were three, four, five or six other political parties? Would they have to hold primaries too?


So there really weren’t two questions at all. There were four. Shooting Parrots is a sly old fox.

Let me answer the questions one at a time, if I can.

But first, a little background is in order. The U.S., as most of you know (even though in Beaverton, Oregon, in May, 2008, a very tired then-Senator Obama didn’t seem to), is made up of 50 states and several territories. Each one makes its own rules concerning the holding of elections (and lots of other things, too, like the minimum age to acquire a driver’s license, whether gay people can get married, and the like), and Georgia is no exception in that regard. Although this may seem unnecessarily messy and frightfully inconsistent to you, we do things that way over here in accordance with the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the idea being that a powerful centralized government was probably not a good thing. [Editor’s note. The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution (out of 27 adopted since 1789) are known collectively as The Bill of Rights. --RWP]

There is an official election code, and it is so complicated that even the scoring scheme in the game of Farkle seems simple in comparison, so I will assume that Ian really doesn’t want me to go into that much depth and just let it go with a passing mention that it exists.

Furthermore, although I'm sure that if I looked long enough I could find the answers to Ian's questions online, I will provide the answers from the vast storehouse of my brain's pre-ingested knowledge without referring to any other authoritative or encyclopedic source of any kind.

So I could be wrong.

***your correspondent takes two aspirin and lies down for half an hour***

Now on with answering Ian’s questions.

First off, a primary is not “a pre-election election,” it is an election in its own right. In some states, only Democrats can vote in the Democrat Primary and only Republicans can vote in the Republican Primary. In the states of Georgia and Wisconsin and perhaps a few others, however, “open” or “crossover” primaries are held in which voters can choose either party’s Primary ballot. Voters in Open Primary states can effectively sabotage their opposing party’s primary by voting for the candidate their own candidate can most easily defeat. Isn’t that special? (Of course, they run the risk that the candidate they prefer in their own party will lose because they chose not to cast their vote in their own primary -- except this year, when there is only one candidate on one of the ballots. Incumbency, like rank, has its privileges. But not always. If you remember, Senator Ted Kennedy ran against then-President Jimmy Carter in Democrat primaries in 1980.)

And, in an odd twist, if a runoff is necessary because no candidate received 50% of the vote in the primary, voters who participated in the primary can choose only the party whose ballot they chose in the original primary, unless they didn't participate in the original primary at all, in which case they are not, as you might think, barred from voting in the runoff but can choose either party’s ballot (if both parties are having runoffs) just like the folks who voted in the original primary. I hope I am making myself clear.

The election just completed was called a Presidential Preference Primary. The Democrat ballot contained one name and the Republican ballot contained nine names, I think, unless it was eleven. I kid you not. Didn't matter whether some have dropped out of the race. Georgia produced its ballot in January and was not going to pay good money to have it done over. [Editor’s note. If county election boards receive official notice from the Secretary of State that a candidate has withdrawn from the race, a written notice to the public to that effect is posted on the walls of each precinct on election day. In this election, no such notice was received from the Secretary of State. --RWP]

In the General Election (the big one in the fall), candidates of all parties appear on a single ballot and no choosing of ballots is necessary.

That being said, I think it is the government (that is, the taxpayers) who shoulder the cost of elections and runoffs. I do not think the parties contribute to the cost of holding an election as that might be interpreted as bribing an election official. If I am wrong, then I think it is intuitively obvious that parties would pay, or help pay, for the cost of elections and you can quote me on that.

Georgia will hold three elections in all this year. In July we will have the regular primaries of both major parties, in which candidates for such offices as sheriffs, mayors, members of school boards, county commissions, representatives to both houses of the State legislature, and representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives will be chosen. Georgia will not have an election for U.S. Senator this year since Senators are chosen every six years and both of our Senators are in the middle of their current terms. Then there will be the General Election in November.

In Georgia -- and again, I think I am correct but I’m not sure -- no party can hold a primary unless in the preceding Presidential election (one is held every four years) that party garnered at least 5% of the popular vote. Other states may have different rules. I believe that the Libertarian Party qualified to have a primary here a few years back. I don’t believe we have ever had a Green Party primary or a Socialist Workers Party primary in the state of Georgia, although their candidates and those of other parties do appear on the Federal election ballot in November.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office, through each county’s Board of Elections, conducts the elections. Georgia has used touch-screen computerized ballots for about a decade now, but some states still use paper ballots or mechanical devices. Some states allow registration up to and including election day, but in Georgia a voter must have been registered for at least 30 days prior to an election. Registration is easily accomplished in a few minutes at either the public libraries or the offices where drivers’ licenses are issued and renewed.

In conclusion, I think the right way to look at it is not that the parties have to hold primaries but that the parties get to hold primaries.

Two posts back, Yorkshire Pudding asked me whether I thought Romney was really up to the job of being President of the U.S. but I am too tired to think about that now.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Wednesday

Super Tuesday is over and ten more states have had their say in the delegate-selection processes leading to national conventions this summer that will select candidates for our quadrennial presidential election in November. In one party, the incumbent, one B. H. Obama, is running unopposed, so all the drama and media attention at the moment are centered on the other party, where four individuals (out of an original nine) are still hanging tough. Do the names Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul ring a bell? Only 22 of our 50 states have completed their primaries or caucuses to date. If I may quote Yogi Berra, it ain’t over till it’s over.

But my sojourn as a poll worker is finished for another little while. Over the past 10-day period I served as a precinct clerk on four different occasions, three of them in county-wide early-voting locations (Georgia instituted early voting about a decade ago). Very long days they were, too. I thought being away from home so much might affect my posting -- hence the admonition last week to “Watch this space” -- but I still managed to get a couple of posts in there.

Not bad for someone who will turn 71 shortly.

Turnout was rather light in our state. To be specific, only about 800,000 Georgians voted in this election, which was billed as a Presidential Preference Primary. By contrast, nearly four million Georgians voted in the 2008 Presidential Election. In the precinct where I worked, only around 900 stalwart and dedicated voters showed up yesterday out of 3,900 registered. Some may have participated in the early voting last week, but still....

Our next election takes place in July, when we pick sheriffs, mayors, members of school boards, representatives to both houses of the State legislature, and a representative to the U.S. Congress. I don’t believe Georgia has a U.S. Senate race this year (Senators serve 6-year terms). Then it will be on to more fun in November.

In other news, Mrs. RWP and I saw our granddaughter in a middle-school production of Mulan that easily rivaled some college-level productions I’ve seen for costuming, set decoration, and singing and acting talent. Few things can beat the 12- to 14-year-old crowd for sheer enthusiasm and exuberance.

Speaking of college, March Madness is upon us in the collegiate basketball world. Only time will tell who will be in the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four. My non-U.S. readers are probably scratching their heads.

Even more important, the new baseball season is upon us with annual spring training games currently being played in the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. If spring comes, can opening day be far behind? With such posts as this one and this one and this one, Reamus continues to be our go-to guy on the subject of baseball.

Speaking of sheer enthusiasm and exuberance and Grapefruit Leagues and Cactus Leagues and Opening Days, I leave you with one of the greats:

(Photo of Yogi Berra in March 2007, used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license)

And as always, dear reader, I remain somewhat incoherently yours.

To quote Yogi Berra again, I just want to thank everyone who made this day necessary.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Like many other posts of mine, this one doesn’t make any sense either.

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


The lines above constitute the entirety of a poem entitled “The Red Wheelbarrow” by the American poet William Carlos Williams, who died on this date in 1963.

Speaking of poetry, last Friday was the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) and I missed the celebration completely. You know Dr. Seuss. He wrote Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and Yertle the Turtle and If I Ran the Circus and lots of others. What you probably don’t know is how to pronounce his name.

It doesn’t rhyme with Mother Goose.

Wikipedia states that he himself noted that it rhymed with “voice” and a friend of his, Alexander Liang, wrote this:

You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice).

And speaking of March 4th, American presidential inaugurations from 1789 through 1933 occurred on March 4th. Since then, thanks to passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the inaugurations have been held on January 20th.

As proof, here is a January 20th scene in Washington, D.C., not too many years ago:


Rather than working yourself into a tizzy over the American political scene in the 21st century, however, just remember:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Dear God: There were bells on the hill, but I never heard them ringing. No, I never heard them at all till there was You.

[Editor’s note to atheists and all other uninterested parties:
Fall out. Take a break. You can go over behind the chow hall and smoke ’em if you ’got em. Be back here ready to re-assemble at oh-eight-hundred hours. Or, if you want to, stick around. You might hear something you like.--RWP]

I think I have mentioned before that one of my tasks at church is working with a children’s handbell choir. While trying to think of something appropriate for the children to play on Palm Sunday, I thought of an old song and, after Googling its title, found a beautiful rendition by a group of adults you may have heard of.

Here is “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus” by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (5:21). Even though I am not a Mormon, I love the sound of this choir. I hope you will, too.

If you weren’t able to understand all the lyrics in the video, here they are:

Tell me the stories of Jesus I love to hear;
Things I would ask Him to tell me if He were here;
Scenes by the wayside, tales of the sea,
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

First let me hear how the children stood round His knee,
And I shall fancy His blessing resting on me;
Words full of kindness, deeds full of grace,
All in the love light of Jesus’ face.

Tell me, in accents of wonder, how rolled the sea,
Tossing the boat in a tempest on Galilee;
And how the Maker, ready and kind,
Chided the billows, and hushed the wind.

Into the city I’d follow the children’s band,
Waving a branch of the palm tree high in my hand.
One of His heralds, yes, I would sing
Loudest hosannas, “Jesus is King!”

According to the Cyberhymnal, the words were written by Will­iam H. Park­er in 1885 for his Sun­day school stu­dents at the Chel­sea Street Bap­tist Church, New Bas­ford, Not­ting­ham, Eng­land. The music, written by Fred­er­ick A. Chal­li­nor, was published in Stories of Jesus in 1903 for a com­pe­ti­tion spon­sored by the national Sun­day School Un­ion in Lon­don. I don’t know who arranged the version for choir and pipe organ in the video, but I found it uplifting and quite a pleasant listening experience.

Cyberhymnal also has a fifth verse, rarely heard, that was not included in the video or any of my hymnals. During this period called Lent when many Christians are contemplating events in the life of Jesus that led to his crucifixion and resurrection, it may be the most appropriate verse of all:

Show me that scene in the garden, of bitter pain.
Show me the cross where my Savior for me was slain.
Sad ones or bright ones, just so they be
Stories of Jesus, tell them to me.

After the children have finished playing their bells on Palm Sunday (sort of like these people, only happier), maybe we’ll sing this song as a congregational hymn.