Thursday, August 30, 2012

Definitely not going to be a one-hit wonder

We are not big watchers of programmes on the telly (as my friends in the UK might say), but Mrs. RWP saw a video clip on Facebook this morning and called me over to watch it with her on our old desktop PC.

Here is 21-year-old Jahmene Douglas on August 18, 2012, auditioning for The X Factor UK, singing the song that made Etta James famous, “At Last” (7:37).

I've never been a huge fan of this particular style of singing, but this young man belts it out of the park. Somewhere, Etta James is smiling.

Apparently Jahmene has been singing for a little while. Here he is in April 2010 singing “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” (4:31).

Somewhere, Ethel Waters must be smiling too.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Albert Ross (and the Otters)

Many of you know that I travel occasionally to Georgia’s neighbor to the west, the great state of Alabama, to (a) visit my daughter’s family and (b) continue my search for banjos of mass destruction. It turns out that I have been looking in the wrong place. I should have been looking in Leeds, Yorkshire.

Here is some lovely folk music by Albert Ross and the Otters (5:39) that includes the long-sought-for but elusive banjo.

Albert’s Myspace page reveals the following:

“Albert Ross was raised in the dwindling limelight of the Working Mens’ Clubs of the North of England. One third of a trio comprising of his father and his drunken uncle, he earned his fish and chips and a tenner a show knocking out the standard club fare of classic sixties and seventies sing a longs. In-between sets, whilst the punters would feast on bingo and pork scratchings, the teenage Albert could be found in the dressing room, with the eyes of bygone clubland heroes staring down at him from their faded publicity shots plastered around the walls. Cradling his guitar and swigging from a bottle of Newcastle Brown he sat and began to breathe life into the songs that filled his head.

“What followed was a blur of excitement. A decade of rock and roll shows and drunken shenanigans. Festivals and third world holidays. Dead end day jobs and never ending nights of wild abandon. Short-term, long distance love affairs. Streets packed tight with people bursting full of life. Shooting stars. Whirling dervishes. Blinding lights. Bands came and bands went. Bands re-formed and shifted shape. Players lived and died and told tales of dreams that came true and dreams that didn’t. It was a time of only good intention. A time to gather.

“Albert knew full well that if he’d learned anything from those wilderness years then that was how to write songs that reached out and hit people on a personal level. Songs that left the listener convinced they’d been written just for them. Songs that ached. Songs of love and loneliness. Songs that begged to be written. He knew too that to breathe life into such songs would require something out of the ordinary. A band of players both graceful and mighty. And so the Otters were born. Where, when and how remains a mystery but what was immediately clear from the very first gathering of tribe was that forces beyond our understanding were at work. Something new was in the air.

“They found a home and searched their souls for bigger and better ways to evolve. They took to the road and found many friends, but most importantly of all they put the songs at the heart of their quest. Now, as the days go by Albert Ross and the Otters continue to gather pace and are indeed in full swing. Wooing audiences across the country and winning fans the world wide.”

For more information, Albert Ross can be contacted at

Any similarity between this post and a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is purely coincidental.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Commander of the nightingale indeed!

My online friend Shooting Parrots who lives in Lancashire over in jolly olde Englande has been having of late what he calls “my temporary obsession with Abdul Abulbul Ameer”; it all started a few days ago when he wrote a post about a man named Percy French for Round Eleven of ABC Wednesday. So far he has made three posts about it (Shooting Parrots I mean, not Percy French). The last one includes an entire 1941 Disney cartoon that Parrots says has been banned because it is not politically correct.

Never one to let a subject drop go unexplored, I thought I would join in the fun by showing you this thoroughly delightful clip of "Abdul Abulbul Ameer" performed by Brendan O’Dowda (3:11).

There now, wasn’t that, er, thoroughly delightful?

I do have one slight correction, however.

People have been getting the title wrong for years. It isn’t “Abdul Abulbul Ameer” and it isn’t “Abdul (The Bulbul Ameer)” either, even though that’s what appears on some sheet music shown at the end of the Brendan O’Dowda clip.

I suppose it could be “The Bulbul” but that is not what Brendan seems to be saying if you watch his mouth closely. In addition, Abulbul does not translate into anything in either Arabic or Persian. Trust me. I tried, using my favorite online translator, Google Translate.

It is therefore my carefully thought-out and considered opinion that the title now and forevermore and even retroactively should be changed to either “Abdul (A Bulbul Ameer)” or “Abdullah, Bulbul Ameer)” and I’ll tell you why.

The word Abulbul does not translate into either Arabic or Persian. I know. I tried. I think I told you that already.

However, Abdullah Bulbul Ameer translates into Arabic as
عبد الله أمير بلبل and into Persian as عبدالله بلبل امیر.

Here are some other fascinating details for your perusal:

Both Abdul and Abdullah are boys’ names commonly used in that part of the world. One famous Abdullah (1882--1951) was emir of Transjordan (1921--46) and first king of Jordan (1946--51). He joined the Arab revolt against Turkish rule in World War I and was assassinated 1951. Another famous Abdullah is Abdullah II, the current king of Jordan. And still another is the current king of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. French’s poem was written too early to refer to any of them.

Dictionary definitions include:

bul·bul [bool-bool] noun
1. a songbird often mentioned in Persian poetry, regarded as being a nightingale.
2. any of several oscine birds of the family Pycnonotidae, of the Old World tropics.

a·mir [uh-meer] noun, emir (Also, emeer, amir, ameer.) Origin: 1615–25; from Arabic amīr, commander

e·mir [uh-meer, ey-meer] noun
1. a chieftain, prince, commander, or head of state in some Islamic countries.
2. a title of honor of the descendants of Muhammad.
3. (initial capital letter) the former title of the ruler of Afghanistan.
4. a title of certain Turkish officials.

One dictionary said this:

emir -- 1595, from Fr. emir, colloquial pronunciation of Arabic amir “commander” (see admiral).

Yes. You read that correctly. See admiral.

ad·mi·ral Origin: 1175–1225; Middle English, variant of amira from Old French, from Arabic amīr al, commander of the (as in amīr al-mu’minīn, commander of the faithful)

To round out this interminable post, here is one version of William Percy French’s 1877 poem:

Abdulla Bulbul Ameer

1. The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

This son of the desert,
In battle aroused,
Could spit twenty men on his spear.
A terrible creature,
Both sober and soused
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

2. If you wanted a man
To encourage the van,
Or to harass the foe from the rear,
Or to storm a redoubt,
You had only to shout
For Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

There are heroes aplenty
And men known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar;
But the bravest of these
Was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

3. He could imitate Irving,
Play euchre and pool
And perform on the Spanish Guitar.
In fact, quite the cream
Of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The ladies all loved him,
His rivals were few;
He could drink them all under the bar.
As gallant or tank,
There was no one to rank
With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

4. One day this bold Russian
Had shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer
Downtown he did go,
Where he trod on the toe
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

“Young man” quoth Bulbul,
“Has life grown so dull,
That you’re anxious to end your career?
Vile infidel! Know,
You have trod on the toe
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.”

5. “So take your last look
At the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar;
By this I imply
You are going to die,
Mr. Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.”

Quoth Ivan, “My friend,
Your remarks, in the end,
Will avail you but little, I fear,
For you ne’er will survive
To repeat them alive,
Mr. Abdulla Bulbul Ameer!”

6. Then this bold mameluke
Drew his trusty chibouque
With a cry of “Allah Akbar!”
And with murderous intent,
He ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

Then they parried and thrust
And they side-stepped and cussed
Till their blood would have filled a great pot.
The philologist blokes,
Who seldom crack jokes,
Say hash was first made on that spot.

7. They fought all that night,
’neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar;
And great multitudes came,
So great was the fame
Of Abdul and Ivan Skivar.

As Abdul’s long knife
Was extracting the life --
In fact, he was shouting “Huzzah!”
He felt himself struck
By that wily Kalmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

8. The sultan drove by
In his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer;
But he only drew nigh
To hear the last sigh
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

Czar Petrovich, too,
In his spectacles blue
Rode up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time
To exchange a last line
With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

9. A loud-sounding splash
From the Danube was heard
Resounding o’er meadows afar;
It came from the sack
Fitting close to the back
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

There’s a tomb rises up
Where the blue Danube flows;
Engraved there in characters clear;
“Ah stranger, when passing,
Please pray for the soul
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.”

10. A Muscovite maiden
Her lone vigil keeps,
Neath the light of the pale polar star;
And the name that she murmurs
As oft as she weeps
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

Other than the facts that in some versions "Black Sea" replaces "Danube" and Abdul is not a diminuitive of Abdullah, I have nothing else to add.

The best way to celebrate having waded through the entire poem is to listen one more time to Brendan O’Dowda’s thoroughly delightful performance.

Class is now dismissed. Before our next class, you should read "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

In your spare time, of course.

Yours for precision in lyrics, I remain...
Rhymes W. Plague, Esq.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And now for something less controversial’s Shirley Temple singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” (2:34) from the 1934 movie Bright Eyes.

And here she is again, this time with the verse included, and the black-and-white original has been changed into a colorized (Brit., colorised) version (3:31).

Without looking it up, can you name the actor on whose lap Shirley was sitting? He was fairly well known and in 1945 earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

And here, for no reason whatsoever, are Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on What’s My Line? in 1955 (7:42).

Nobody ever said my posts had to make a lick of sense.

This has been a little trip down memory lane.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The most important 18 minutes since the gap in President Nixon’s Watergate tapes

...just might be a talk given in Orlando last September by lawyer Anita Moncrief, a former liberal and the whistleblower in the ACORN scandal. She shared some very interesting information:

Anita Moncrief’s very interesting information -- Part One (9:14)

Anita Moncrief’s very interesting information -- Part Two (9:53)

If you have been asleep, people, it is time to wake up.

P.S. -- For those who are wondering, I do know how to add, and I realize that Ms. Moncrief’s very interesting talk is actually a little over 19 minutes long when you include the seconds. I chose to ignore the seconds so that this post -- did I mention that it contains some very interesting information? -- could have a very interesting title.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

As the election draws near

...every American voter and certain residents of Sheffield, Yorkshire, England in the U.K. ought to read this article by Niall Ferguson in this week’s Newsweek magazine.

Since you’re here, why don’t you read it too? (It’s a little on the long side -- five pages -- but worth the look.)

You might learn something.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lies, damned lies, and presidential campaigns

In July, a blog called Human Events ran the following headline:


Here’s the article that followed the headline.

For those who never click on links, Debbie Wasserman Schultz represents Florida's 20th Congressional District (Fort Lauderdale and environs) in Washington and she is also the Chair[person] of the Democratic National Committee. A few days later, Ms. Schults went on MSNBC and repeated the charge on nationwide television.

To be fair, she was being asked to comment about a statement made in a conference call the previous week by Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.. Ms. Cutter had said, “Either Mitt Romney, through his own words and his own signature, was misrepresenting his position at Bain to the SEC, which is a felony, [or he wasn't].” Wasserman Schultz basically attempted to validate what Cutter had said, repeating the accusation for a national television audience.

These two women are not a couple of nobodies out in the hinterland; they are high priestesses in the campaign to get President Obama re-elected.

Fast forward to the present (today, August 20, 2012) and watch this exchange between reporter Nancy Cordes of CBS and President Obama at a news conference.

Again, for the link-challenged, here is a transcript:

Nancy Cordes, CBS: As you know, your opponent recently accused you of waging a campaign filled with anger and hate. You told Entertainment Tonight that anyone who attends your rallies can see that they are not angry or hate-filled affairs. But in recent weeks, your campaign has suggested repeatedly -- without proof -- that Mr. Romney might be hiding something in his tax returns. They have suggested that Mr. Romney might be a felon for the way that he handed over power of Bain Capital. And your campaign and the White House have declined to condemn an ad by one of your top supporters that links Mr. Romney to a woman’s death from cancer. Are you comfortable with the tone being set with your campaign? Have you asked them to change their tone when it comes to defining Mr. Romney?

President Obama: Well, first of all, I am not sure that all of those characterizations that you laid out there were accurate. For example, nobody accused Mr. Romney of being a felon. And, I think that what is absolutely true is if you watch me on the campaign trail, here’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how to put Americans back to work.

(End of transcript)

As the Psalmist said, Selah (Hebrew: pause and consider).

The point being, I suppose, that when you tell (or imply) a lie, sometimes you have to tell another lie to cover up the first lie.

To my mind, this is akin to saying, on the one hand, “Mother Teresa could be a common whore” or, on the other, “Princess Diana never referred to Camilla Parker-Bowles as The Rottweiler.” [Editor’s note. As far as I know, no one has ever said such things. --RWP]

It also demonstrates that as long as enough people (a) aren’t really paying attention and (b) believe anything they hear, anything is possible.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

“We’re number one!” and other fallacies

Just as there are five Olympic rings, there were five big winners in the London 2012 Olympics medal race:

United States - 104 medals (46 gold, 29 silver, 29 bronze)
China - 87 medals (38 gold, 27 silver, 22 bronze)
Russia - 82 medals (24 gold, 25 silver, 33 bronze)
Great Britain - 65 medals (29 gold, 17 silver, 19 bronze)
Germany - 44 medals (11 gold, 19 silver, 14 bronze)

Obviously, we (collectively) are the best!


Ya think?

If you consider gold medals only, the list is slightly different:

United States - 46
China - 38
Great Britain - 29
Russia - 24
Korea - 13

Again, we (collectively) are the best!

But for a completely different (and perhaps more accurate) perspective on the London 2012 Olympics, maybe we should consider this chart showing medals per capita.

Moving right along to the subject of taxation, with or without representation, consider this statement by Thomas Sowell:

Friday, August 17, 2012

As God is their witness, they’ll never go hungry again

A remarkable gift that affects our local region has been made public. Joseph Mitchell, son of Stephens Mitchell, the brother of Margaret Mitchell -- the same Margaret Mitchell who wrote Gone With the Wind -- has left his half of the Mitchell estate to the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.

You can read the fascinating details here (and if you click on the link within the link, even more fascinating details).

If you’re the type who doesn’t do links, here are just a few of the things the archdiocese received, according to the article:

- A 50 percent share of the trademark and literary rights to Gone With the Wind, which still sells 75,000 copies per year in the U.S. alone.

- Mr. Mitchell’s home on Habersham Road in Atlanta.

- A collection of signed first editions of Gone With the Wind published in various languages and an unpublished history of the Mitchell family, handwritten by Margaret’s father, Eugene Muse Mitchell.

- Some of Margaret Mitchell’s personal effects, including her wallet with her press card and library card, and furniture from her apartment.

- A library of books that includes histories and signed first editions of the late Georgia Catholic author Flannery O’Connor’s novels and short stories.

Joseph Mitchell, 76, was the last direct descendant of the Mitchell family. His brother, Eugene, a generous benefactor of Morehouse College and School of Medicine, as was Margaret Mitchell, died in 2007. The two brothers had each inherited a trust with a half share of the literary and trademark rights to the celebrated novel written by their late aunt.

From the Joseph Mitchell estate, Archbishop Gregory has designated that $7.5 million be given to the Cathedral of Christ the King for its building fund. He has also assigned $1.5 million to Catholic Charities Atlanta for its immediate use and an additional $2 million to create an endowment fund for the social services agency to address its long-term need for sustaining income. The archbishop has also asked the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia to create an endowment fund for each parish, mission, and Catholic school of the archdiocese with a $10,000 gift apiece from the Joseph Mitchell estate, totaling over $1 million.

It’s almost too much to take in.

I’ll think about that tomorrow.

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

As we bid adieu to the XXXth Olympiad,...

We remember with fondness little Paulette Huntinova, the gymnast who captured our hearts with her unforgettable performances in...

the floor exercises (3:24),...

the uneven parallel bars (1:40), and ...

the balance beam (3:33).

We shall not soon see her like again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

And still they come

Number 104, Vagabonde, has joined our little family of readers. She lives in the next county over from me but hails originally from Paris, France.

Her blog is wonderful, a treasure trove of photographs, postage stamps, vintage postcards, and compelling narrative text.

Join me in saying, “Welcome, Vagabonde!”

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Today marks the 67th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb by the United States on the city of Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945. It was only the second time an atomic bomb had been used in warfare, and it followed by three days the dropping of the first atomic bomb used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. A few days later, Emperor Hirohito of Japan surrendered. World War II ended officially on September 2, 1945, when papers were signed aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay with General Douglas MacArthur presiding.

I mention all of this because I have not heard or read one word about Hiroshima or Nagasaki or atomic bombs this year. Not a peep.

The “with it” people are all watching the London Olympics or following the circus that is Obama vs. Romney or gone off to the lake for a final summer getaway before school starts once again.

History has a way of fading into, well, history.

You can read all about the surrender, if you want to, here.

Speaking of novel ideas...

On June 29, 2012, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky proposed something so new, so different, so shocking that the Senate is probably still reeling.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Senator Rand Paul.

Barring the unanimous consent of the Senate, which I’m sure you will agree would surprise us all, I have just one thing to say:

It’s a heck of a way to run a railroad.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What to remember while watching the Olympic Games

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”

So said Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

It’s not about medal counts! It’s not about national pride! It’s not about fawning sportscasters rushing in to interview the winners! It’s not about ignoring all but the top three finishers in every event! It’s not really about being faster, higher, stronger!

It’s about pushing oneself to be the very best one can be. It’s about growing, achieving, expanding one’s own horizons. Perhaps it’s even about recognizing one’s own limitations.

It’s about being human.

What a novel idea!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Patricia and Charlotte

So all of a sudden my blog gained another new follower, number 103, and her name is Patricia Moews. Her thumbnail sketch reveals that Patricia lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and attended Albemarle High School. Some of our closest friends when we lived in Boca Raton, Florida, moved to Charlotte, and when Mrs. RWP and I visited them in 1996, I drove on Albemarle Road to get to their house. Is it a small world or what?

When I clicked on Patricia’s link, our old friend Google said, “Patricia hasn’t shared anything with you” which, though true, I thought was rather cheeky of an inanimate object. Then Google either added insult to injury or tried to be even more helpful by adding, “People are more likely to share with you if you add them to your circles.”

Really, the nerve of some multi-bllion-dollar multinational corporations.

Patricia has added me to her circles, but how can I know whether I want to add her to my circles unless I get to know her better, and how can I get to know her better unless she lets me read her blog?

But what I’m really wondering is how Patricia pronounces her last name. Moews. Is it “Mews” like a cat or “Mows” like a lawnmower or even “Mouse” like a young rat? I wonder. I truly do. Patricia, if you’re out there, share something with me. A comment, maybe.

About that trip to Charlotte in 1996. We had decided to get away from Atlanta to avoid the increased traffic caused by the Olympics as well as all the hype and hoopla (note the alliteration) and self-congratulation filling the local newscasts. We drove up on a Friday afternoon, slept like logs at our friend Becky’s house (Don had died a couple of years earlier), and enjoyed a leisurely, late breakfast together on Saturday morning, Mrs. RWP’s birthday. We enjoyed catching up on all the news of Becky and her three Eagle Scout sons. Around noon, Becky turned on the television set and we learned that a bomb had exploded in Centennial Park in Atlanta. More than 100 persons had been injured and one woman was killed. A guard named Richard Jewell was being hailed as a hero.

And now here it is 2012 and we are watching the Olympics taking place in London and, thanks to Patricia, thinking of our trip to Charlotte. It is a small world.

Please, God, let there be no bombs.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Willkommen, bienvenu, welcome!

Unlike my blogging friend Lord Yorkshire Pudding of Pudding Towers, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, in the United Kingdom, I do take notice of my blog’s followers. Pudding seems to be above all that.

They are not my “disciples” (as Pudding suggested), just people who like what I happen to have written.

Two more people decided to become followers this week:

Helsie, who makes her home in Brisbane, Queensland Australia; and عبده الضحوي‬‎ (Abdo Aldhoi), a طالب جامعي (college student) who hails from الحديده المراوعة (Hodeidah Alemrauap).

I know where Australia is, but I had to investigate further to learn that Hodeidah Alemrauap, which is also known as Al Hudaydah, is the fourth largest city in the country of Yemen. Hodeidah/Hudaydah is located on the southeastern coast of the Red Sea, just across the water from the countries of Eritrea and Djibouti. Here is a map of Yemen and its neighbors:

I know that people from Yemen have passed through here before because Yemen’s flag is in my treasure-trove of little gif and jpg files that I copied from that Feedjit thingy over in the sidebar, but Mr. Abdo Aldhoi is our first registered guest from there.

Yemen’s flag looks like this:

Australia’s flag (I didn't forget you, Helsie) looks like this:

Any vexillological disparity you might perceive is not my fault; I merely used what I found.

People have to come to blogs like mine to find the phrase “vexillological disparity.”

Yorkshire Pudding, eat your heart out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ya gotta love the Olympics

[Four years ago, I wrote a post very similar to this one at the close of the Beijing Olympics. A few details required updating, but it still -- just like the contestants in the track and field events in London that everyone is so caught up with at the moment -- has legs. Enjoy! --RWP]

The Olympics will soon be over, the CLXXXth Olympiad of 2612 will fade into history, and we will all be able to return to our busy lives until the CLXXXIst Olympiad takes place just four short years from now in the year 2616. It is mind-boggling to realize that these games have been held for 716 years, ever since the first one was held in Beijing, China, back in 1896. Rumors of even earlier games that were held for a thousand years in an ancient country called Gris persist, but have never been verified.

Many of the competitions from the first hundred years or so of the modern games have fallen by the wayside, of course, especially since physical contact sports were outlawed by Our Great Leaders in 2392 in favor of more cerebral and artistic pursuits. You may also recall that feats of individual strength and endurance were dropped almost a hundred years later in 2488 because of objections raised by the Comprehensive Report of the Joint Commission of the International Alliance of the Weak and the Worldwide Congress of Losers, Simpletons, and Cowardly Persons.

We congratulate the latest stars in the Olympic heavens:

1. Auk Dingo of Tasmania, who won a coveted Tin Medal for Uninterrupted Navel Gazing. Auk established a new record of 83 hours, 17 minutes by outlasting the second-place finisher and winner of the Recyclable Plastic Medal, the formidable Ludmilla Ubetchurlifwithgrouchomarxova from the Georgian-Tibetan-Andorran Federation, the newest member of the Neo-Sino-Soviet bloc, who had held the old record of 83 hours, 16 minutes.

2. Miguelo Felpi of tiny Nord Amerik, who won an unprecedented 73 medals at the games. Miguelo, who handily swept past all other competitors in every Dumpster Diving event, told this reporter that his inspiration came from having learned that one of his remote ancestors had once achieved a measure of success in something called “swimming.”

3. Pinchuk Quadrilahmagong of the Gulag Archipelago, who cleaned the floor, toilets, and urinals of the Olympic Stadium’s Platinum Level’s men’s room using only a toothbrush, a box of paper towels, and sheer determination, thereby winning for himself not only the admiration of thousands but also a handshake from Our Glorious Leader, who wore gloves for the occasion. Pinchuk was awarded the most sought-after prize of the games, the Rubber Ducky with Double Plunger Clusters. These games marked only the third time in Olympic history that spectators have been allowed to continue to use men’s toilets and urinals on the Platinum Level of the Olympic Stadium during the competition, giving them a sense of ownership and a level of participation in the games not seen heretofore.

And so we will soon be bidding a fond adieu, an adios, an au revoir, an auf wiedersehen, a sayonara, and, yes, even a ta-ta, mate to the games of the CLXXXth Olympiad, and waiting with ’bated breath for 2616, when, because of the rising sea levels and constantly shifting patterns of global climate change, the summer and winter games will be held simultaneously in Waterloo, Iowa, the largest city in what's left of Nord Amerik. Two new sports, Corn Detasseling and Cow Milking By Hand, will be added into the mix of fascinating events you can expect to be watching at the next games.

See you in four years in Waterloo.

[Editor’s note. For a real Olympic love story, read this article Tom Friend wrote about Al Joyner and Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) in 2009. It’s a bit long but it’s worth reading.--RWP]

Thursday, August 2, 2012

On this blog’s having attracted 100 followers

One hundred is just a number. It really means nothing. It is
(a) twice the number of states in the United States, (b) the square of the number 10, (c) the cube root of 1000, (d) one-sixth the number of members of the Light Brigade who rode into the Valley of Death, (e) the number of years in a century, and (f) one more than the alleged number of bottles of beer on the wall.

Still, it represents a significant milestone here, one over which
I have absolutely no control. Well, okay, maybe a little bit of control based on what I choose to write or decide not to write.

The number of people who follow this blog is subject to change at any moment. It can go up. It can go down. It can include people who stopped living and breathing some time ago. It can include living and breathing people who haven’t bothered to stop by in ages, having left for greener pastures.

So although I am happy to see that little number reach three digits, I don’t delude myself. I still have a long way to go to reach the stratospheric levels of that Pioneer Woman in Oklahoma or even an English blogger named Grumpy Old Ken who currently enjoys the attention of 1,113 devoted followers.

But I am grateful to each and every one of you.

I’m not the least bit jealous of those other bloggers.

What was the color of those pastures again? Oh, yes. Green.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No man is an island

Yesterday, while I was employed as a precinct clerk during Georgia’s 2012 primary election, Gore Vidal died in California at the age of 86.

He was a writer of novels both historical (Lincoln, Burr) and pornographic (Myra Breckenridge), a playwright (The Best Man, Visit to a Small Planet), an essayist, a writer of screenplays, and possessor of an acerbic wit. He was a failed politician. He was homosexual. He was bisexual. [Editor’s note. Pick one. --RWP] He was an atheist. He was a liberal gadfly who once called William F. Buckley a “crypto-Nazi” to his face on live television.

He was a distant cousin of Vice-President Al Gore, from whom he kept his distance, saying that one day each of them might benefit from “plausible deniability.”

He was a fifth cousin of President Jimmy Carter’s.

His step-father, Hugh D. Auchincloss, Jr., an heir to the Standard Oil fortune, was married at one point to Janet Bouvier, mother of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Gore Vidal once wrote that the happiest words in the English language were “I told you so” and the three saddest ones were “Joyce Carol Oates.”

I read all of these things about him today in various articles and news reports.

I also found this photograph, which, like its subject, is only tangentially related to this post:

It’s the end of an era.

They just don’t make ’em like Gore Vidal any more.

If this post doesn’t make any sense, that’s all right. Grief does strange things sometimes.

John Donne probably said it best:

No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thine own or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.

It’s true. No man is an island. But some men are definitely peninsulas.


Addendum (August 2, 2012): Here is a link to an article that captures Gore Vidal very well. It is by his biographer, Fred Kaplan, and includes 12 photographs of him (Gore, not Fred) over the years. Some of the comments that follow the article are every bit as interesting. To say that Gore Vidal could be outspoken and controversial is an understatement. Perhaps that is one reason I admired him so much even though our lifestyles were so very different. --RWP

I will be laboring (<i>British,</i> labouring) under a handicap for the next couple of weeks (<i>British,</i> fortnight)

More about that below. First, though, I want to add an addendum (what else would you do with an addendum?) to my previous post about phone...