Tuesday, March 31, 2009

He's ba-a-a-a-ack!

Those of you who have spent the past four days staring at the photo in my previous post can do something else now.

Just like General Douglas MacArthur, I have returned. (Click on photo to get the full effect.)

Okay, so maybe not just like General Douglas MacArthur. At any rate, Mrs. RWP and I have been in Alabamistan helping our daughter with a few things for a few days, but now we are back in north Georgia in our regular digs.

Tomorrow, being April 1 and all, is April Fools Day (or April Fool’s Day, or April Fools’ Day, or whatever the heck it is) and many people around the world are holding their collective breaths to see whether the dreaded Conficker-C worm will strike their computers. I refer you to the following article that my son sent to me:

Emergency Alert Notice -- Computer Worm Infecting Systems Globally -- Warning of Increased Activity on April 1st

Information Security organizations around the world are bracing for the next wave of a computer worm (malware), known as the “Conficker C” variant, that has been infecting networks and computers around the world since late last year. This virus has instructions that will be executed on infected systems on Wednesday, April 1st. The exact nature of the activity that will be launched is not known, but will affect millions of computers that are already infected. This virus is particularly stubborn to clean up -- so much so that it is recommended that an infected system should be wiped clean and the operating system reinstalled from scratch.

Since its emergence in November 2008, the Conficker worm, also known as Downadup, has gone through several variations. The current variant of the malware, first observed March 6, 2009, is known as Conficker C. This variant contains logic that will become active on April 1, 2009. The exact nature of the activity that will occur on that day is not known at this time. It is known that the malware will begin querying domains for new instructions/payload, as it has done in the past. It is critical that currently infected systems are cleaned before April 1. It should be noted that Conficker C no longer spreads like the previous versions, making detection of infected hosts more difficult. The current variant has added additional defenses against detection and removal, such as disabling Windows services, anti-virus products and analysis tools and preventing the infected host from reaching security-related websites.

(End of article)

I was going to tell you that as long as you have good anti-virus software installed and a firewall, you should be safe. That’s what I was going to tell you, until I read the last sentence in the article. Now I can’t tell you that. Darn.

I sincerely hope this is a menace on the order of The Great Y2K Hullaballoo Over Nothing that occurred in 1999 and that we will all come through it with flying colors (or, as they say in the United Kingdom, unscathed).

But if sometime today, when you least expect it (as Allen Funt used to say on Candid Camera), your cyberworld comes crashing down around you, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring cleaning

1. An anapest is the reverse of a dactyl.

Anapest beat: da-da-DUM da-da-DUM da-da-DUM da-da-DUM
Example: The AsSYRian came DOWN like the WOLF on the FOLD... (Lord Byron, 1813)
Example: ’twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas and ALL through the HOUSE... (Clement Clarke Moore, 1829)

Dactyl beat: DUM-da-da DUM-da-da DUM-da-da DUM-da-da
Example: THIS is the FORest primEVal, the MURmuring PINES and the HEMlocks... (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1847)

2. An iamb is the reverse of a trochee.

Iamb beat: da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM
Example: i WANdered LONEly AS a CLOUD... (William Wordsworth, 1804)
Example: come LIVE with ME and BE my LOVE (Christopher Marlowe, circa 1585)

Trochee beat: DUM-da DUM-da DUM-da DUM-da
Example: ONCE upON a MIDnight DREAry, WHILE i PONdered, WEAK and WEAry Over MANy a QUAINT and CURious VOLume OF forGOTten LORE... (Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)

3. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. (Étienne Serres, 1824)

4. In life, as in the dictionary, perspicacity precedes perspicuity. (rhymeswithplague, 1983)

5. The square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. (Pythagoras, sixth century B.C.)

6. I got you, babe. (Salvatore Bono and Cherilyn Sarkisian, 1965)

...and the beat goes on.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

OCO is loco.

The new group of people running things from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. (or, as Garrison Keillor was so fond of calling the previous group, the Current Occupant) has announced another change.

The phrase Global War On Terror (GWOT) is out. We must not call people who fly planes full of people into American buildings terrorists. We must not call people who drive automobiles full of explosives into the middle of crowds in cities all over the world and detonate them terrorists. We must not call people who put poisonous gas into the air conditioning systems of subways terrorists. We wouldn't want to offend our enemies, now, would we? Of course not.

No, no, naughty people. The new, improved phrase is Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). OCO. While it may represent change we can believe in, it is also, if you will pardon the expression while noting that it is in Spanish to recognize our largest minority group, loco.

It is also, to use George Orwell’s phrase, double-plus ungood.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My new favorite joke

My previous favorite joke was:

Q. Why don’t Baptists have sex standing up?
A. They think it might lead to dancing.

But my new favorite joke is this:

Q. Why don’t Episcopalians participate in orgies?
A. Too many thank-you notes to write.

If it’s Tuesday, this must be Byron**

The Destruction of Sennacherib
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

George Gordon, Lord Byron, the author of the poem you have just read, was born on January 22, 1788, and died on April 19, 1824, at 36 years of age. The poem, which he wrote in 1813 using anapestic tetrameter, used to be popular in school recitations. Well, that’s all well and good, you may be saying, but what is Sennacherib? It is not even mentioned in the poem.

Sennacherib is not a what. Sennacherib is a who. Or, rather, Sennacherib was a who a very long time ago. Not the kind that Dr. Seuss wrote about, but a who, nevertheless.

He was the Assyrian mentioned in the first line of Byron's poem.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, Sennacherib, the son of Sargon II, succeeded his father on the throne of Assyria and reigned from 704 to 681 BC. The name Sennacherib, or Sin-ahhi-eriba, means “the Moon god Sîn has replaced lost brothers for me.” Depending on your point of view, Sennacherib was either a great warrior or a bit of a stinker. The Wikipedia article includes a section called War with Babylon and a section called War with Judah. Both the Old Testament and Byron’s poem describe Sennacherib’s battle for Jerusalem in 701 BC from the point of view of Hezekiah, king of Judah.

In the Old Testament book of Second Kings, chapters 18 and 19, is a description of the siege of Judah by the armies of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Chapter 19, verse 35 says, “And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

I must interject here that it is always important to use pronouns correctly. Otherwise, you stumble across such strange statements as “and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses." In the interest of clarity, I must point out that the first “they” refers to Hezekiah’s army and the second “they” refers to Sennacherib’s army. And “dead corpses” is definitely redundant. So much for the English of the King James Version of 1611.

The Wikipedia article on Sennacherib is too long to include here, but it is fascinating because it contains his own account of the battle, the Hebrews’ version of the battle, and an account written around 450 BC by the Greek historian, Herodotus.

A six-sided clay object known as the Taylor Prism is especially fascinating. Found in 1830 in the ruins of Sennacherib’s palace, now in northern Iraq, it contains in the Akkadian language Sennacherib’s version of what happened. Here is an English translation:

“Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number. From these places I took and carried off 200,156 persons, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mules, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude; and Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape... Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, and diverse treasures, a rich and immense booty... All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government.”

Nothing at all about 185,000 of his men slaughtered in one night.

The Taylor Prism wasn’t unearthed until six years after Byron died, and it’s a pity. Perhaps he would have written another poem on the subject.

Apparently others thought Sennacherib was a bit of a stinker as well. In 681 BC he was assassinated by two of his own sons.


**A long time ago (1969) there was a movie called “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” which has nothing to do with Lord Byron, but I thought it would be fun to twist that movie title into the title of a post about a poem by Lord Byron. The movie was about a busload of American tourists in Europe. Roger Ebert, the movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, said in his review that the American tourist is, in short, a plague. (If you are really hard up for something to read, you can read Ebert’s review of the movie in its entirety here.)

Taking my cue from a phrase on the Taylor Prism, I could just as easily have called this post “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” and included a picture of Maya Angelou.

I would like to announce at this time that I am not a plague, but I rhyme with one.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Separated at birth?

Is it just me or do these two look alike?

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Franks (left)

Comedian Buddy Hackett (right)

The resemblance is even more startling when you hear the Congressman speak.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Did you ever have one of those days?

Poem, Untitled
by Robert H. Brague

The page is blank, like my life.
All sorts of subjects flit through my mind
On the way to somewhere else
But not one settles down, makes itself
Comfortable, takes root, or starts to grow
Upward toward the light that arches
High above, beckoning all things to
Itself, not a single one.

The page is empty, like my brain.
I want to write a poem
But nothing comes to mind,
Only a formless maelstrom,
Swirling like one of the
Hundred million galaxies
Out there in the cosmos,
Moving toward the light.

(Copyright 2007 Robert H. Brague)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

There's got to be a morning after

Yesterday was my 68th birthday. Today I woke up and thought of that song. It was first sung at the end of the movie The Poseidon Adventure in 1972 and was a hit for singer Maureen McGovern. Here she is singing it. (I can’t explain the video. Perhaps it is a tribute to the peace movement of the sixties, but I don’t know for sure. When I hear the song, the only scenes I see are Shelley Winters swimming underwater and the survivors emerging from the upturned ship at the end of the movie.)

This must be my month for girl singers. Rosemary Clooney, Dinah Washington, Bea Arthur (her baritone voice almost disqualifies her from the category), and now Maureen McGovern. Oh, wait, I did throw Pat Boone into the mix at one point.

Perhaps I am stuck in the past. Well, as the Jewish lawyer who opened a restaurant in Tokyo said, Sosumi.

In fairness, though, I am now in the second day of my 69th year, and I have a lot more past to remember than future on earth to contemplate. Fortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

Here is that selfsame Maureen McGovern singing a truly amazing rendition of “Amazing Grace” with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (that girl has quite a range). At one point, the choir of Azusa Pacific University sings a verse a capella. It took me back to my own college choir days at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

There’s got to be a morning after.

I’m counting on it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What a difference a day makes!

On March 16th it was all about St. Urho over at the blog of Dr. John Linna, a son of Finland. Yesterday, March 17th, it was all about St. Patrick just about everywhere you went. Even Hoda Kotb on the Today show was all decked out in green. Hoda is Egyptian-American; I read that her surname was originally pronounced Ka-TUB, but now that she is co-hosting Today with Kathie Lee Gifford it is pronounced KOT-bee. Go figure.

And then there’s Maude, er, today, March 18th. Today it is all about me, Me, MEEEEEE!

What a difference a day makes! Especially March 18th, 1941. As David Copperfield (the fictional character, not the magician) once said, “To begin with, I was born.” If I hadn’t been, you wouldn't be reading this post right now. You might instead be reading one written by rhymeswithasparagus.

I have already given myself three birthday presents:

1. Mrs. RWP and I went out for breakfast.
2. On a worducopia post called “Famous First Lines” from last October that I just found this morning, I identified #70 as the opening sentence in The Violent Bear It Away by one of my favorite authors, Flannery O'Connor.
3. I decided to create this very post and include one of my favorite pop singers of yesteryear, Dinah Washington, singing one of my favorite songs, “What A Difference A Day Makes” with an introduction by -- would you believe it? -- a young Ronald Reagan! Some of the facts of Ms. Washington’s life related by the voice-over announcer (who is definitely NOT Ronald Reagan) later in the video, though, I could have done without...and it would have been nice to hear the whole song.

Neverthless, happy 68th birthday to me!

If you made it this far, here’s a little birthday bonus. Bea Arthur as the above-mentioned Maude singing “I Did It My Way”!

Except for the difference in gender, it could be the story of my life....

I hope you know I’m only kidding.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On St. Patrick’s Day, my father always wore...

Not the fruit. The color.

When he was young, I think he rather enjoyed getting into fistfights with the wearers o’ the green.

Dad’s love of orange may explain the contrarian streak in my nature. I think I have told you before that when the whole world is advocating A, I tend to consider the merits of B. It’s not a bad philosophy to have. But you probably won’t win any popularity contests.

If you don’t know why Dad wore orange, you probably shouldn’t be wearing either orange or green on March 17th. But, hey, I’m just a voice crying in the wlderness. Far be it from me to spoil the fun of a nation of stereotype perpetuators.

[Note to the confused: If I have my history right, green was the Catholic color and orange was the Protestant color. If I’m wrong, I hope someone will let me know. --RWP]

But since it is St. Patrick's Day, you can read all about St. Patrick here.

I do like that the three-leaved shamrock can be used to teach the doctrine of the Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit -- one God.

This does not explain the existence of a four-leaf clover.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Maybe this blog has jumped the shark

Tracie in Florida who calls herself “Rosezilla” read my post on voter registration and commented, “Okay, I’ll bite, what does ‘jumping the shark’ mean?”

Well, Rosezilla (and anyone else who may be wondering the same thing), basically it means I watch far too much television.

Rather than explaining it in my own words, however, I suggest that you check out this article from Wikipedia, which will tell you far more than you will probably ever want to know about “jumping the shark.” But you must read every word of it just to make sure you are fully informed, and by “fully informed” I mean you must also click on the “nuking the fridge” and “jumping the couch” links in the article, because only then will you be able to gather enough information to decide for yourself whether actor Tom Cruise is gay (Warning, Spoiler Ahead: he isn’t).

By “Tom Cruise” I mean Thomas Cruise Mapother IV:

And just as Pat Boone is no Yul Brynner, Tom Cruise is no Henry Winkler.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of voting registration

I was casting about in my mind (what an odd phrase!) for a topic to post about next, and I happened to read an article written by Kate Brumback in the online version of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a proposed new law regarding voting in Georgia. You can read it in its entirety here (Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin, take note).

In a comment, Mamamoose wrote: “To show citizenship all you need is your birth certificate. Everyone (minorities, elderly, etc.) should have a copy of their birth certificate. If you don’t, you need it whether or not it is going to be required to vote. Voting is a right as an American citizen. We should want this law to pass. I don’t want illegal immigrants casting votes to determine the people in office.”

Then someone called Freedom Watcher wrote: “I don’t need to prove anything. You need to prove that I am not a citizen or what ever. I was not created to serve government it was created to serve me. I exist at my pleasure not the other way around. If it is nolonger [sic] serving then it should nolonger [sic] exist.”

And someone called Sine qua non wrote: “What a quaint idea...you have to be a citizen of this country to vote in an election in this country! It’s not like the new law is saying you have to be male, or white, or a landowner who pays property taxes, or pay a poll tax (all of which used to be requirements but were overruled by amendments to the Constitution)...only that you have some proof you are an American.

“Freedom Watcher’s heart is in the right place but is he or she saying that ANYONE, American or not, ought to be able to vote in American elections??? Let me put it this way: Should Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors have a say in who is to be president of the Senior Class? The Student Body president, maybe, but not the president of the Senior Class. God help us if we ever amend our Constitution to let anyone, anywhere on the face of the earth vote in U.S. elections. That will be the day we have jumped the shark.”

[An aside to lovers of language: Regarding the phrase “casting about in my mind” up there in the first sentence of the post, it originally made me think of someone fishing using a rod and reel or a net (and my mind was the lake), but then it occurred to me that the phrase was somewhere in the Bible. Sure enough, when I searched an online version of the Bible I discovered that the phrase, changed only slightly, appears in the first chapter of Luke in the New Testament in the King James Version. It is in the passage about the Annunciation. After the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women,” the next verse says, “And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be” and you know the rest of the story. I checked Strong’s Concordance and learned that “cast in her mind” has nothing to do with fishing; it is a translation of the Greek word διαλογίζομαι (dialogizomai), which according to both Thayer’s Lexicon and Strong means “to bring together different reasons, to reckon up the reasons, to reason, revolve in one’s mind, deliberate.” That must be where our English word dialog comes from, except that a dialog requires two people. I don’t know about you, but I found this extremely interesting. Almost as interesting as the fact that I use more prepositions than the Virgin Mary. --RWP]

I realize this photo has nothing to do with this post, but this is my blog and I can post it if I want to. I don’t even need a birth certificate.

Three guesses who Sine qua non is, and the first two don’t count.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thoughts on a Thursday

As of this morning, the little flag thingy over there in the sidebar indicates that people from 59 countries have visited this blog since the flag-thingy was installed back in December. That is downright amazing. Needless to say, I am pleased. Welcome to you all!

Two of the countries in the thingy’s list do not exist. They are figments of someone’s imagination. One is called “Unknown - European Union” and the other is called “Unknown - Asia/Pacific Region.” Very curious.

It pains me that on the map of the world in the Feedjit Live Traffic Map thingy there are no red dots in Greenland, Antarctica, or Africa (a few have appeared in Africa from time to time, but have “aged off” the map). And it pains me even more that New Zealand does not even appear on the Feedjit Live Traffic Map. I have had visitors from New Zealand (hi, Katherine!), but the Feedjit Live Traffic Map people apparently consider that country so inconsequential that it hasn’t even been given the courtesy of a spot on the map. Even Madagascar gets that. Katherine, a thousand pardons.

Spring has already sprung in north Georgia even though the vernal equinox is still a week and a half away. The jonquils, forsythia, Bradford pears, cherries, and tulip trees are all blossoming and blooming away. But it isn’t really considered spring around here until the azaleas and the dogwoods and the redbuds make their annual appearance. We’re still waiting for those.

Michael Vick, late of the Atlanta Falcons football team, was released from the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, a couple of days ago. His home in Atlanta went on the auction block in Atlanta this week. Twenty thousand square feet. Starting price of $3.2 million dollars, with additional bids to be in increments of at least $25,000 -- there were no takers. None.

Because I was raised in Texas (although I am not a native), things with a Texas connection tend to catch my eye. This week, conservative columnist Pat Buchanan wrote a column entitled “Lyndon Baines Obama” that you can read here. (Note. My link is to Mr. Buchanan’s own blog and not to Human Events, where it is also published, because my readers might have been forced to see photos of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Ann Coulter above the headline of Mr. Buchanan's column at Human Events, and I don't want to upset anyone or offend anyone’s delicate sensibilities. But some of you might want to sneak over there and read some of the comments that follow Mr. Buchanan’s column.)

There is method in my madness. A few minutes with the madding crowd and you should be happy, even relieved, to come here and partake of my good old non-political blog.

Another blast from the past

This one’s for Jinksy, but the rest of you can look and listen too.

Jinksy lives in the United Kingdom and started reading my blog fairly recently. In a comment on my March 10th post about Yul Brynner/Rosemary Clooney, she mentioned that she didn’t know what Pat Boone looked like, but thought his voice was sweet.

We must remedy that immediately.

Here is a picture of Pat Boone during his heartthrob days (circa 1957).

According to writer/blogger Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST News Service (ANS) in Lake Forest, California, “In the years immediately prior to the British Invasion, only one performer rivaled the chart dominance of Elvis Presley, and that was Pat Boone. With his trademark white buckskin shoes, perfectly combed hair and gleaming smile, Boone was the very essence of American values at a time when rock & roll was viewed as a sign of the apocalypse. He wasn’t put off by the dire warnings of preachers and he embraced rock & roll and added his own twist.”

I would add only that the phrase “British Invasion” does not refer to Lord Cornwallis and his redcoats in the 1770s but to John, George, Paul, and Ringo and others of their ilk in the 1960s.

Pat’s first record, “Two Hearts, Two Kisses (Make One Love)” started his career in 1955. That was followed by “Ain’t That A Shame” (originally recorded by Fats Domino), “Tutti Frutti” and “Long Tall Sally” (both originally recorded by Little Richard).

Here is Pat singing another of his hits, “Love Letters In The Sand.”

Again from Dan Wooding’s article: With over 45 million units sold and 38 “top-40” hits, Pat Boone is recognized by Billboard Magazine as the #10 rock recording artist in history, placing higher on that impressive chart than either Madonna or Billy Joel. Entertainment Weekly proclaimed him “Winner of the Week” in 2003 as Pat Boone incredibly landed his 61st hit “Under God” as a top-15 single on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart from his “American Glory” album. In 2003, the Gospel Music Association took note of these achievements when they inducted Pat into the GMA Hall of Fame.

Wooding caught up with Pat Boone on the Red Carpet on Wednesday, February 11, 2009, at the 17th Annual Movieguide® Faith and Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Here’s how Pat looked that night about a month ago (photo by Alyssa N. Martin):

Let the word go forth from this place, I shall henceforth make every effort to refrain from commenting on the sexiness, imagined or otherwise, of aging members of the entertainment industry at home and abroad (Pat Boone will be 75 years old on June 1st.) After all, as they say, that’s why ice cream comes in many flavors. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. De gustibus non est disputandum. (Enough already with the aphorisms.)

But on behalf of a couple of longtime readers of my blog, I would like to make one final observation about Pat Boone:

He’s no Yul Brynner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another time, another Clooney

Pat, an Arkansas Stamper, who by her own admission lives in a cave on the back side of beyond, revealed in a comment on yesterday’s post that (a) she had never before seen George Clooney, (b) she would not try to set any speed records to do so again, and (c) her idea of a sexy-looking man was Yul Brynner.

There must be something in the water out in Arkansas. The expression on his face and in his eyes make him look like a man who has just been told he must move the privy before he will get any supper.

To be fair, though, here he is all cleaned up and looking spiffy. Unless I am mistaken, this photo is from the movie Anastasia in which he co-starred with actresses Ingrid Bergman and Helen Hayes.

I didn’t set out to blog about Yul Brynner, but Pat’s comment helped me to realize that certain niche groups exist in my audience. So today I have decided to accommodate them by presenting to you a star of another era, George Clooney’s aunt, Rosemary.

If you never heard of her, never heard her sing, and have no idea what she looked like, you can start by clicking here for a photo gallery.

Then listen to “If You Loved Me Half As Much As I Love You” and “Botch-a-Me” with an introduction by Dean Martin.

Next, check out Rosemary’s rendition of “I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan.”

Listening to this duet with Judy Canova three times in a row is guaranteed to put a bounce in your step and make your day happier.

If you just cannot get enough of Rosemary Clooney, listen to “Alone At Last.”

Lastly, here is an audio version of what was probably her biggest hit, “Hey There.” I did find a youtube version of it from the eighties, but it is far too uptempo and jazzy and I refuse to link to it.

In my research, I discovered that George Clooney is not only the nephew of Rosemary Clooney, he is also the son of Nick Clooney (Rosemary’s brother, who hosts movies on the AMC channel), the nephew of Jose Ferrer (Rosemary’s husband, twice), the cousin of actors Miguel, Gabriel, and Rafael Ferrer (Rosemary’s and Jose’s sons who were named after angels), and Debbie Boone, who sang “You Light Up My Life” (wife of Gabriel and daughter of Pat Boone and Shirley Foley Boone, who just happens to be the daughter of country singer Red Foley, who had a big hit way back when with “Peace in the Valley”).

That is not Rosemary Clooney. That is Rosemary’s sister, Betty. Together, they recorded a duet called “Sisters” in nineteen something-or-other. Just another fascinating fact from my bottomless bag of trivia.

Okay, I'll throw in one more fact for good measure. The wife of actor Ricardo Montalban was also the sister of Academy-Award-winning actress Loretta Young.

I never said it would be about Rosemary Clooney.

Honestly, the lengths I go to just to make the niche groups in my audience happy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Calling Dr. Opera, Dr. Soap Opera...

It was with a bit of trepidation and no little fear and trembling that I turned my blog over to Billy Ray Barnwell for the previous post. But my uncertain faith was not misplaced and he came through in my time of need.

He did indeed convey the very message I had hoped he would, except for the part about my being one of a set of quadruplets. That is sheer nonsense, and I trust you recognized it as such.

If I could afford the services of a skywriter airplane pilot, THANK YOU, BILLY RAY BARNWELL would be splashed across the sky for all to see.

We returned to our humble abode on Sunday evening, glad that everything was under control and returning to normal with our daughter.

Her hospitalization was not without its bright spots, however, not the least of which was the doctor who saw our daughter daily during her three-day stay. In our particular room he was referred to as “Dr. Hottensexy” and “Dr. Eye Candy” and “Dr. Gorgeous” by various members of our immediate family. As Belle Watling once said to Melanie Wilkes in Gone With the Wind, “it wouldn’t be fitten” to tell you his name or show you his photo, as it might cause a sudden influx of population into a certain city in Alabama. But since I suspect that many of you are drooling as you read this, I will be merciful and let you feast your eyes on the following not-quite-as-handsome substitute:

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A guest blogger speaks

F.Y.I., P.D.Q., L.S.M.F.T., Billy Ray Barnwell here, C.Q., C.Q., calling C.Q., oh, wait that is what amateur radio operators who are also known as "hams" do, I lost my head for a minute and forgot that this isn't amateur radio, although I suppose some might call me a bit of a "ham" myself even though I do not know one thing about amateur radio, I am here because I have been entrusted with a special assignment by none other than the one and only dear old rhymeswithplague himself, not that he and I speak that often or get along all that well, but he requested that I convey a message to all of you blogger friends of his, well, readers anyway, I don't know whether you consider yourself his friend but he does, anyways, the message is that he and Mrs. Rhymeswithplague were called out of town unexpectedly on Thursday morning because their daughter in northern Alabamistan, who was scheduled to have some minor medical procedure performed in an outpatient clinic on Thursday morning and had told them that they didn't need to come, was being admitted to a hospital because the medical folk discovered from the results of her blood tests that her hemoglobin was 4 when it should have been about 12 or 13 and her hematocrit or hematacrit or whatever it is was 16 when it should have been about 38 or 39, and the medical folk were amazed that she could stand up or walk or even be functioning at all with numbers that low, so their son-in-law, the Rhymeswithplagues's I mean,not the medical folk in northern Alabamistan, called and asked Mr. and Mrs. RWP if they could come over to help with the grandchildren for a few days, so Mr. and Mrs. Rhymeswithplague hustled Jethro over to his favorite doggie dude ranch and left town quicker than you could say "antidisestablishmentarianism," although I don't know whether you even go around saying such words and I can't imagine who you would be saying them to, so now after receiving four pints of blood and iron intravenously and also two vitamin B-12 shots and spending 48 hours in the hospital she has been released. The medical experts have ruled out all the worst possibilities because she is producing platelets so they know it is not a bone marrow problem or anything like leukemia. The doctor feels it is a nutrition issue as she did have gastric bypass surgery five years ago and malabsorption of nutrients and vitamins in such patients is not untypical. The doctor is also recommending that she have a work-up done by an internist in about four weeks even though he feels in his gut, that is the medical term he used, that it is a nutrition issue, I can't remember when I have been this lucid or stuck to one subject for this long but a promise is a promise and I have done what he asked so old rhymeswithplague owes me big this time, I really must bring this epistle to a close, oh, did you know he was one of a set of quadruplets? well he is, their names are remus, romulus, rhymeswithplague, and raedawnchong but they were separated at birth, remus changed his name by adding an "a" in the middle and now spends his days traveling incognito, or so he thinks, around the United States in a camper, romulus bought a DeLorean and achieved time travel into the twenty-third century and sent back word that he had founded the Romulan empire and also along with a Captain James Tiberius Kirk of the U.S.S. starship Enterprise defeated some group called the Klingons, you are familiar with rhymeswithplague, and as for raedawnchong, she just disappeared off the radar completely, well, I must go, but everything I said before the words I really must bring this epistle to a close is the God's honest truth, the rest you may take with a grain of salt, two aspirin, and call me in the morning, and this is Billy Ray Barnwell signing off.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I have sort of received a sort of award, sort of

To be a little more specific, I was selected by Carolina of Nederland or the Netherlands or The Netherlands or whatever it is, author of a blog called Brinkbeest in English (there also is a Brinkbeest in Dutch) to receive the following award:

But what exactly was I awarded? No one seems to know for sure. Many before me have tried to figure it out, with little success. I thought it was an old-fashioned manual typewriter being attacked by a tornado. And after Carolina named all the new recipients, she said, “Does anyone know what it says next to the award? I’m sure it’s something positive, but I haven’t a clue.”

I enlarged the photo thusly:

I was able to discern that what had appeared to be a tornado attacking the typewriter is really a torrent of words coming out of the typewriter and entering, one would guess, the world at large. I was able to make out a few phrases such as “It’s all I wear” and “two of us” and “...ing through...”. Curious. But by and large the whirlwind thingy is a jumble of incomprehensible words, which is supposed to bring to mind, apparently, my blog.

I also noticed, at the lower left of the enlarged picture, what is apparently the title of the award -- in Spanish, I think, or maybe Portuguese, neither of which I read -- “I Entrega de Premios Dardos 2008” followed by a phrase in English, which may or may not be the translation, “Best Blog Darts thinker” to which I can only respond, with deep humility, “WHA-A-A-T????”

Another recipient, Jay in England, did some research on the history and name of this particular award and posted what she found in a post on her own blog. Jay, we salute you for making the world safe for blogocracy!

Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate receiving this award, really I do, especially since it “acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day,” according to Carolina and the person who gave it to her and the person who gave it to that person.

Recipients of this award are instructed to:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to another 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I have done 1) in this post, but I don’t think I will do 2) because this whole blog award business seems to be getting a little out of hand. Carolina awarded it to only eleven people, not fifteen as instructed, so if she can bend the rules then so can I.

Furthermore, I happen to be the seventh person in her list of eleven recipients, not exactly at the top of the heap. In selecting me, Carolina wrote, “This man and his alter ego Billy Ray Barnwell, if that is his alter ego that is, have two very entertaining blogs (so this award is for Billy Ray Barnwell too). Billy Ray has written a book that maybe isn’t a book, I’m not quite sure and neither is he I believe, but he and rhymeswithplague always manage to confuse me even more than I usually am!”

So I am getting an award no one can read, with a name no one can understand, shared with someone who either is or is not my alter ego, from someone who is sure the fine print next to the award says something positive, but she doesn't have a clue, not because of certain namesless cultural, ethical, literary and personal values I transmit every day, not even my EFFORT to transmit those values, but the values that EVERY BLOGGER shows in HIS/HER EFFORT to transmit those values EVERY DAY, and also because Billy Ray Barnwell and I manage to confuse Carolina more than she usually is [confused].

I think this time Carolina has outdone even me.

But it’s the thought that counts.

I am deeply grateful. I especially like that the award depicts an old-fashioned typewriter like the one on which I first practiced fgf fgf jhj jhj and ded kik ded kik and lots of other Dutch-looking words back in the Dark Ages until I became so adept at using a QWERTY keyboard, the only kind I know how to use, that I could type 125 words per minute. I’m not kidding.

I was also the first male student in the history of our school to take shorthand (Gregg Diamond Jubilee) and therefore I can read the top example in the following examples of shorthand systems:

Can you?

My masculinity was, of course, questioned by many of the other male students in my school. But I was valedictorian of my class that year, and the next fall the second male student who enrolled in shorthand in the history of the school turned out to be valedictorian of his class also. Again, I'm not kidding. This skill sure came in handy when I took notes in college lectures in the days before there was such a thing as portable audio cassette recorders.

For the unenlightened among you, there is also a DVORAK keyboard, and anything I typed on it using QWERTY skills would probably resemble Brinkbeest in Dutch.

Except I would understand this wherever it happened to be typed:

Carolina, dank u.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Better late than never...

A couple of days ago I received an award from Carolina in Nederland or the Netherlands or The Netherlands or whatever it’s called and I do intend to retrieve it eventually the award I mean not Nederland or the Netherlands or The Netherlands or whatever it’s called and post it here to show you along with appropriate words of thanks to Carolina of you-know-where but speaking of better late than never I also just decided on the spur of the moment to give up commas for Lent and we’ll see how long that lasts not very long I would wager and somehow the spirit of Billy Ray Barnwell is trying to invade my world this morning and I have no intention of letting that happen but it seems that with the even temporary setting aside of the use of commas has come a sudden need to write longer and longer sentences which does smack of Billy Ray’s way of writing and I also wanted to tell you that I was out of commission for half of yesterday thanks to something called Microsoft Windows Service Pack 3 because I happen to have a Compaq Presario computer that is incompatible with anything above Microsoft Windows Service Pack 2 so when the Pack 3 update came along my computer suddenly couldn’t find any addresses online any more and when I signed out and came back later Microsoft in all its wisdom wouldn’t even let me get on the Internet any more so I ended up having to restore my system to its status as of the previous evening which my son kindly had shown me how to do a couple of months ago by clicking Start and then All Programs and then Accessories and then System Tools and then System Restore but I forgot the other thing I was supposed to do a second step as it were and that was to reset the modem afterwards so for several hours I was reduced to playing games offline and working on some musical compositions in Finale until my son called and when I explained my predicament he reminded me about resetting the modem and also to unplug the phone jack from the wall to break the connection and then replug it back into the wall which I had also forgotten and so I was incommunicado for much of yesterday for which I apologize and so I still need to get over to Carolina's blog and pick up my award which as I said I will show you as soon as I get it and I wonder just how long this no-comma nonsense will last because it is pretty tiring to remember not to put in commas perhaps I should give up giving up commas for Lent for Lent if you get my drift maybe I should have given up apostrophes instead.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If anyone cares,...

...yesterday (March 2nd) was Texas Independence Day.

I grew up in Tarrant County, Texas (home of the Fort Worth stockyards) and studied Texas History during my senior year of high school.

Here is the text of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico and the signatures of all the men who signed it on March 2, 1836, in the town of Washington-on-the-Brazos.

And here is a transcript of an event held by The Texian Legacy Association on March 2, 1998, in Austin, and a speech entitled “The Myth and Meaning of Texas Independence” given by Dr. Stephen L. Hardin, Professor of History at Victoria College in Victoria, Texas. Careful readers of this blog will recognize Victoria as the birthplace of the mother of Pat - An Arkansas Stamper.

I am not really a Texan. I moved there when I was six and moved away when I was twenty. Think how insufferable I would be if I were a native.

Unlike every other state that entered the Union after the original thirteen, Texas was never a U.S. territory. After declaring independence from Mexico, Texas existed as an independent nation, the Republic of Texas, for nine years. It received diplomatic recognition as a sovereign nation from both Great Britain and France, and entered the United States in 1845 by an annexation agreement.

Here’s a little-known fact: Texas was considered to be so large at the time it was annexed into the United States as the 28th state that it retained the right in the annexation agreement to divide itself into as many as five states at any time it desired. But no one has ever been willing to give up the Alamo.

Alaska, of course, covers twice as much area as Texas, but when Alaska became the 49th state in 1959, no provision was made for splitting Alaska into ten states. If such provision had been made, we might today have the following:

Come to think of it, we seem to have that anyway.

So now you know all about yesterday. But some of you may be asking, “What about today?” I will now tell you about today.

Today, ladies and gentlemen, is the first day of the rest of your life.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Money, money, money makes the world go around

If you received $1,000,000 every day starting on the day Jesus Christ was born, which for argument’s sake and to make calculations easier let us say occurred on January 1 of year 1 of the Christian era (it did not), you would still not have received as much money as the U.S. Congress voted to spend in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus bill) that President Obama signed into law on February 17th.

I’ll prove it to you. There are 365 days in a year and 365 times $1,000,000 per day equals $365,000,000 and $365,000,000 per year times 2008 years equals $732,920,000,000 as of December 31, 2008, except every four years is a leap year when an extra day, February 29th, is added, and there have been 2008 divided by 4, or 502 leap days in our time period, so add 502 million dollars for a total of $733,422,000,000 as of December 31, 2008, except that in century years (1700, 1800, 1900, etc.) no leap day is added, so take away 20 days for the 20 century years or $20,000,000 for a total of $733,402,000,000 as of December 31. 2008, except that in century years that are divisible by 400 (400, 800, 1200, 1600, 2000) the extra day is inserted anyway, so add five days, or $5,000,000 for a total of $733,407,000,000 as of December 31, 2008, and since today, March 2, 2009, is the 61st day of 2009, add sixty-one million more dollars ($61,000,000) to the total to bring your total up to date. Please note that these calculations do not take into account the fact that several days were removed when the world changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, nor do they take into account the fact that there were no U.S. dollars to be given out on January 1 of the year 1 of the Christian era, nor do they take into account that leap days may not have been added every four years since the year 1 of the Christian era, but it’s close enough for our purposes. So you would have received, give or take a few million, a total of $733,468,000,000 as of March 2, 2009. Wasn’t that simple?

As Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois once said, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus bill) that President Obama signed into law on February 17th will disburse $787,000,000,000 to various and sundry projects for various and sundry reasons. This means that on top of the $733,468,000,000 you already received you could keep on receiving $1,000,000 per day for the next 146 years and some odd months and still not have received as much money as the U.S. Congress voted to spend in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (stimulus bill) that President Obama signed into law on February 17th.

I don’t know about you, but I could have used a little of that money.

With $787,000,000,000 at its disposal -- created out of thin air, as it were -- the U.S. Congress could have voted to give every man, woman, and child in the United States (the current population is approximately 305,000,000) the sum of $2,580.32 -- a husband and wife with no children at home would have received $5,160.64 and a family of four would have received $10,321.28 -- and our economy would have been stimulated in the way each household chose to stimulate it. Instead, the U.S. Congress in its infinite wisdom voted to give a $400 tax credit to single taxpayers and an $800 tax credit to married taxpayers. [Update: And, as David Barlow of Ephraim, Utah, kindly pointed out, a one-time, lump-sum payment of $250 to anyone receiving Social Security. --RWP]

Aren’t they generous? And isn’t representative democracy wonderful?

(The sudden and inexplicable presence of the spirit of Billy Ray Barnwell assisted in the production of this post)

P as in Predicament, B as in Barbiturate, O as in Ophthalmologist

Somewhere in the back of my mind I think we may have talked about this before, long ago perhaps, but we're going to talk about it again....