Thursday, February 27, 2020

Loose ends tied while-u-wait, or Rhymeswithplague cannot leave well enough alone

Everything I say in this post except the part about Joe Biden was prompted by comments left by readers on the previous post, "Life is not a bowl of cherries."

1. I am indebted to Bonnie from Missouri for telling me about a song called “Life Is Just A Cher O’Bowlies” as I had never heard of it or the group that recorded it, The Blues Magoos. Here it is:

Life Is Just A Cher O’ Bowlies
(sung by The Blues Magoos on their 1967 album Electric Comic Book)

Rain rain from the sky
In my magic land
It isn't rain or rain at all
Though all is coming down

All that's coming from the sky
Is tons and tons of frum
This may seem mighty strange
And comical to boot

Life is just a Cher O' Bowlies
Life is just a Cher O' Bowlies

Whats the use of singing this song
Some of you aren't even listening

Life is just a Cher O' Bowlies
Life is just a Cher O' Bowlies

Thank you

(end of song)

I just know in my heart of hearts that the Cher mentioned in the song’s title is none other than Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPiere Bono Allman because by 1967 the song she recorded in 1965 with Sonny Bono, “I Got You, Babe”, had been played more than 40,000,000 times. I looked it up.

I had never encountered the word “frum” before so I looked it up too. I learned that it is a Yiddish adjective that means 'religious'' or 'pious' and connotes the observance of Jewish religious law in a way that often exceeds its bare requirements. This includes the careful study of Torah, daily prayers, observing Shabbat (Sabbath) and performing deeds of loving-kindness. I learned also that “frum” can be used in a negative sense for 'hypocritically pious', 'holier-than-thou', and 'sanctimonious’ or in a positive sense for 'pious', 'devout', 'God-fearing', and 'upright'.

Unfortunately, we cannot know which sense The Blues Magoos meant "frum" in their song, "Life Is Just A Cher O' Bowlies" so thanks a lot, Bonnie from Missouri.

If you cannot possibly live another minute without hearing the song performed and are okay with losing two minutes, 36 seconds of your life that you will never get back, click here.

2. (a website some people like and others abhor) published the following story on Tuesday:


Former Vice President Joe Biden made yet another gaffe Monday, saying in a South Carolina campaign speech that he is a “candidate for the United States Senate” and that people could “vote for the other Biden” if he is not their preferred presidential candidate.

“My name is Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate. Look me over, if you like what you see, help out. If not, vote for the other Biden,” the 77-year-old said in his remarks at the First in the South Dinner, according to a video that has gone viral on Twitter.

The pair of confusing statements comes as Democrat primary candidates will debate Tuesday evening in Charleston. The Palmetto State will head to the polls for its primary contest on Saturday, where Biden hopes to use his “firewall” to blunt Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) momentum after winning the Nevada caucuses. Earlier this month, the Vermont senator won the New Hampshire primary and took the popular vote in Iowa. A Public Policy Polling survey released Monday shows Biden with 36 percent of support, while Sanders is trailing in second at 21 percent.

Biden is no stranger to making confusing statements on the campaign trail. Biden referred to New Hampshire as Nevada on the night of the Granite State’s primary. The incident was one of several in which he has appeared confused about the city or state that’s he’s campaigning in.

Appearing Thursday at a CNN town hall event, Biden said deceased son Beau Biden, who served as the Attorney General of Delaware, was the U.S. Attorney General.

(end of story)

You are free to draw your own conclusions. On Wednesday the news was that in Tuesday night's Democratic presidential candidates debate in Charleson, South Carolina, Joe Biden said that over 150 MILLION people had been killed by guns since 2007. Assuming that he was referring to the United States of America, the actual number is closer to 150 THOUSAND (loyal Democrats who want to believe Mr. Biden should note that 150 MILLION is almost half the population of the entire U.S. —- or put another way, if California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, and half of Georgia were gone, somebody would have noticed). Candidates come and candidates go, but the king of gaffes apparently goes on forever.

3. Another reader, Kathy from Virginia, said that her husband often quotes lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth and then says, "Terence, this is stupid stuff."

Without looking it up, do you know who wrote that and what work it is from?

I do. It’s from a collection of poems called A Shropshire Lad by A. E. Housman that was published in 1896 in England. Some of the better-known poems in the collection are “When I Was One-and-Twenty”, “With Rue My Heart Is Laden”, and “Loveliest Of Trees The Cherry Now”.

Thank you, Mr. D. P. Morris, my high-school English teacher.

Kethy herself allowed as how she prefers Psalm Of Life, which is by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, which she neglected to mention.

4. Yorkshire Pudding said, "How can you look on the bright side of life when’s you have no home or when you have contracted the coronavirus or when your dog just died or when you you were just mugged by a crazy drug addict? I wish life was a bowl of cherries but it clearly isn't."

5. In response to my having said in the post that a saying attributed by many to Voltaire was actually made by historian Peter Gay, reader Graham Edwards (who lives in the town of Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, did you know that?) said, "Voltaire seems to be popping up everywhere recently. I always preferred his view of life and whatever is is best rather than Nietzsche's." I must resond to Graham's response.

The saying that many incorrectly attribute to Voltaire is "Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats." According to the website, Voltaire did employ the shipwreck metaphor in his letters; for example, in 1760 he wrote: "Comptez que le monde est un grand naufrage, et que la devise des hommes est, sauve qui peut." because Voltaire was French. One possible translation is, "The world is one great shipwreck: and man’s motto, “Save yourself if you can.” Voltaire’s remark did not mention lifeboats or singing; thus, his tone was quite different.

In Voltaire's book Candide the character Dr. Pangloss viewed every situation with extreme, possibly even naive optimism and taught that we live in the best of all possible worlds. Candide is devastating satire that ridicules the idea that everything works out for the best and that we live in the best of all possible worlds. I know that St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that all things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to His purpose, but that is not exactly the same thing as saying we live in the best of all possible worlds or that what is is best.

This post is quite long enough and I promise (a) not to write another post this long any time in the near future and (b) to refrain as best as I can from using my own comment stream as fodder and inspiration for future posts. This time I simply couldn't help myself..

P.S. -- On a personal note, today is the birthday of my favorite cousin Dr. Philip F. Caracena (1935-2016). RIP, Philip..

Monday, February 24, 2020

Life is not a bowl of cherries

I thought of another pet peeve: People who say prostrate when what they should have said is prostate.

It's just my personal opinion, but I don't think there are many places outside of a doctor's office where the word a person should have said is prostate.

Moving right along...

Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) was a woman from Ohio who is best known for her humorous newspaper columns and 15 books, most of which became best-sellers if Wikipedia is to be believed.

I don't know about the insides of her books, but some of her titles are very humorous. They include:

I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression (1974)
The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (1976)
Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession (1983)
If You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time To Go Home (1991)

We will not be going down any of those particular rabbit trails today, but what you choose to do in the privacy of your own home in your spare time is entirely up to you, of course.

The rabbit trail we have chosen for today is Erma Bombeck's 1978 title, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?

When I said Erma Bombeck is best-known for her humorous newspaper columns I didn't mean that the newspapers were humorous, I meant that her columns were humorous and appeared in newspapers. By the way, where else would columns appear? Magazines have articles; newspapers have columns. Do I have to explain everything to you?

Getting back to cherries, way back in 1931 Lew Brown and Ray Henderson wrote a song called "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries" that went like this:

Life is just a bowl of cherries;
Don't make it serious;
Life's too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so,
But you can't take your dough when you go, go, go.
So keep repeating it's the berries;
The strongest oak must fall.
The sweet things in life
To you were just loaned,
So how can you lose what you've never owned?
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all.

I think Messrs. Brown and Henderson were delusional. In 1931 Herbert Hoover was presiding over a deepening Great Depression. The stock market had crashed two years earlier. Banks were failing right and left. The dust bowl was just about to appear over the horizon. Life is just a bowl of cherries? Seriously?

I have thunk and thunk on the subject (you would probably say thought and thought but this is my blog) and it is my considered opinion that life is not a bowl of cherries.

What is life exactly?

Those of you are tempted to tell me that Voltaire said, “Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats” will be stunned to learn that it was historian Peter Gay who said that, not Voltaire, according to the website.

St. James said, or at least he would have if he had spoken English of the King James variety, “What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.”

William Shakespeare put the following into the mouth of Macbeth, in iambic pentameter yet: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing.”

Perhaps things are not quite that dire.

Or maybe they are, but we can amuse ourselves in the meantime by reading books by Erma Bombeck.

That advice from 1931 is worth considering.

Live and laugh at it all.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Pet peeves

In no particular order, but I will number them for easy reference in the comments:

1. People who add a syllable to mischievous so that it rhymes with devious (saying mis-CHEE-vee-us when it should be MIS-chiv-us).

2. People who say a-PLIK-able instead of APP-luh-kuh-bul.

3. People who say ir-re-VOKE-able instead of ir-REV-uh-kuh-bul.

4. Big-bellied men whose big bellies stick out over their pants and belt.

(Note to Britishers: On this side of the pond pants means trousers. Note to Americans: Britishers think pants means underpants. General note to everyone: Australians say skivvies, at least my stepmother's friend Big Dorothy did 60 years ago. I don't know what Australians say now. Maybe back then they had heard American sailors say skivvies during and after the second World War, as in "Baby, I'll show you a good time if you slip off them skivvies. Here, have some nylons". My dad, who grew up in Iowa and also served in the U.S. Navy, said skivvies, but as far as I know he was never in Australia.)

If all hearts and minds are now clear, I will continue.

5. People who leave their dog's poop on the sidewalk.

6. Drivers who follow too closely.

7. People who talk out loud in theaters (British, theatres).

8. Drivers who, when the lanes ahead are merging, rush past everyone and try to break in line near the front.

9. Drivers who proceed out of turn at a four-way stop sign.

10. People who pronounce the silent L in palm and salmon and almond.

11. People who turn plurals into possessives by inserting an apostrophe where it doesn't belong.

I'm sure I'll think of others.

Britishers say DEB-ree and Americans say duh-BREE, but that doesn't bother me. Neither does luh-BOR-uh-tree for LAB-ruh-tory.

One guy I used to work with said pacific instead of specific, but he was a doofus who was only mildly irritating.

People who do not put the subject of a gerund in the possessive case are borderline, but I forgive them because they probably know not what they do. I give them a pass as well.

There was a girl in my class growing up back in Texas who said Gal-VES-ton intead of GAL-ves-ton and Miz-riz instead of Missus (although there is historical precedent for Miz-riz because Mrs. is short for Mistress), but she was the prettiest girl in the class, with dark hair and eyes, and all the boys drooled over her, so she gets a pass. She was an only child and inherited her family's land and married well to boot and became hands down the wealthiest member of our graduating class. I haven't thought about her for years until this post.

What are some of your pet peeves? Do not say its/it's, their/there/they're, or your/you're as they have been overdone. Grammar in general is discouraged.

P.S. - Misuse of who and whom drive me crazy, although I never correct anyone, ever. I may devote a whole post to the use of who and whom. Then again, I may not.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Update on Abby

The vet's office called this morning with the lab report on Abby's tumor. It was a histo-something-or-other and was benign. She is good to go but won't have the stitches removed until Feb. 24th. If she licks them too much in the meantime and the area around them begins to redden, the area could get infected. The vet recommended that we buy one of those cone-shaped Elizabethan-type collar thingies if that happens. We are hoping it will not be necessary.

With apologies in advance to Yorkshire Pudding, who will be offended, the resemblance is truly remarkable.

The doggie model is not Abby, it is an Australian kelpie, which prompts me to give a shout out to all readers from the Land of Oz.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Betelgeuse may explode soon

...according to a man named Eric Mack in this article on February 11th and also in this one on February 3rd.

So if you read at least one of the articles you'll know where to look.

Not here:

That's Beetlejuice, not Betelgeuse.

Here's Betelgeuse:

I do apologize to readers in the Southern Hemisphere who see a completely different night sky.

If Betelgeuse does explode into a supernova as astronomers are predicting, nothing will be left of it eventually but stardust.

Speaking of which, here's Nat King Cole singing that very song (3:21).

Betelgeuse may explode, but Nat King Cole's voice goes on forever.

Thank you, Nat, and thank you, Gordon Jenkins Orchestra, and thank you, Hoagy Carmichael.

That last guy? All he did was compose the song.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The saga of Abby continues

Do you remember our little 13-lb. dog, a Chihuahua/Terrier mix named Señorita Juanita Rosita Lolita Conchita Margarita Abigail, Abby for short?

Last month she began licking and biting her right leg, usually upon returning indoors from her trips to the back yard. Our vet thought she might have an allergy or possibly an obsessive-compulsive disorder, gave her some pills, and asked to see her again in about 10 days.

A small growth appeared.

It grew rapidly and changed from pink to red to brownish in just a couple of weeks.

We took her back to see her favorite vet, Dr. Jeff, who couldn't decide if she had a "lick granuloma" or a "round cell tumor" but he agreed that it needed to be removed.

Yesterday she had the operation and received eight stitches.

The patient is recovering and doing nicely. We dropped her off at 9am and picked her up at 4 pm. She was pretty woozy and whimpery last evening but was willing to pose for a glamour shot today.

I also managed to get a shot of her chest and legs showing that she (a) is pretty in pink, (b) had her right foreleg shaved for the procedure, and (c) also had her left foreleg shaved so that an IV tube could be inserted during the procedure.

The removed mass has been sent to a lab for analysis. We are hoping it wasn't malignant or, in the event it was, that Dr. Jeff was able to get good margins around it and nothing is left to trouble Abby further.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

I'm melting! I'm melting!

In fact, I've completely disappeared.

Not her.

Our three inches of snow that fell yesterday morning.

It's completely gone today.

It was pretty while it lasted.

Nothing gold can stay, Robert Frost said. Apparently nothing white either.

Heraclitus said something to the effect that no man ever steps into the same river twice because the river has changed and the man has changed, and the only permanent thing is change. In Greek, of course.

As somebody once said to somebody else, in Latin yet, Sic transit gloria mundi.

It makes one stop and think.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

With apologies to Beatrice Lillie, Lady Peel

...there are no fairies at the bottom of our garden, none at all. In summer there are blackberries, but today, February 8, 2020, there are -- wait for it -- snowflakes!

Lots and lots of snowflakes.

You may enlarge the photographs below of our back yard (British, garden) and see for yourself.

Our blogger friend Yorkshire Pudding in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England reported today that England has had absolutely no snow this year and it is most 'unwinterly' (a meteorological term he invented for the occasion) to say the least. Well, until today, neither has Georgia, which is why I am positively giddy about being able to post about it to all of you in the wider world.

As luck would have it, it also has been snowing in our front yard today. Here's the view earlier this morning from our front door. You are looking at -- mirabile dictu -- our neighbor's house across the street.

Speaking of Beatrice Lillie, Lady Peel, she was a personage of another era. Here is a photograph of her taken, as it happens, on my seventh birthday (March 18, 1948) by the world-famous photographer Yousuf Karsh, a survivor of the Armenian genocide earlier in the twentieth century. According to what I read, over 20 photos by Karsh appeared on the cover of Life magazine, itself another relic of a bygone era.

Beatrice Lillie, friend of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, is indeed an artifact from days gone by. She was, according to something I read a long time ago, "a comic actress and satirist who parodied the flowery performing style of even earlier decades when arias, declamations, recitations, and poetry readings were all the rage". If she looks the slightest bit familiar to you, maybe you remember seeing her in the role of the villainous Mrs. Meers, laundress and white slaver, in the 1967 technicolor movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, the version that starred Julie Andrews.

I think I remember hearing Bea Lillie perform “I brought my harp to the party, but nobody asked me to play; the others were jolly and hearty, but I wasn’t feeling so gay” way back in the dark ages, but I couldn’t find it on Youtube. (I couldn’t find Helen Hayes reciting “The White Magnolia” either, but that has nothing to do with this post.) So if you have been dying to hear Beatrice Lillie perform, here she is doing -- and this will bring this post full circle -- “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of our Garden” (2:32) on an old 78-rpm vinyl recording.

I know this post will irritate Yorkshire Pudding for several reasons, but it simply can't be helped.

It is still snowing, four hours later, and here's a picture of our patio table to prove it:

Cheerio, ta-ta for now, and other phrases people like Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Beatrice Lillie were always saying.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Madame Speaker, I yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Stratford-upon-Avon

It is too early in the morning to think straight, my mind is not yet fully alert and running on all cylinders, and Graham Edwards who lives on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in the remotest part of Scotland called my last post arcane.


Therefore, today I am letting another aspiring writer have the floor. From the site Mental Floss, here is a delightfully informative article:

21 Phrases You Use Without Realizing You're Quoting Shakespeare


I shall be resting in the drawing room all day so that the healing virtue of silence can renew my befuddled and frenzied mind, because I am of the wrong gender to get me to a nunnery.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

And another thing

A scant 7,980 years from now — just a few months after the great Y10K scare when the whole world becomes apprehensive and apoplectic over the prospect of having to change to a 5-digit year electronically when the year 9999 is unexpectedly followed by the year 10,000 — someone much like me will begin to figure out when the next palindromic date will occur, it having been over 900 years since the last one occurred on September 9, 9090 (or, as we say in our nerd circles, 09099090 in the U.S. and Europe, 90900909 in Asia).

Let me save that someone the trouble.

The first worldwide palindromic date of the 11th millennium will occur on October 10th, 10101 (that is, 101010101).

Another great mystery solved.

This is my 1,810th post since this blog began on September 28, 2007. People born in the year 1810 include P.T. Barnum and Frédéric Chopin, but the year was not as good a year for famous births as 1809, which ushered into the world Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allan Poe, Felix Mendelssohn, Nicolai Gogol, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Cyrus McCormick, Kit Carson, Charles Darwin, William Gladstone, and Louis Braille.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Today is a special day and I’m not referring to groundhogs or football

Today, February 2nd, 2020, is a palindromic date all over the world. No matter whether you write dates U.S. style as mm/dd/yyyy or European style as dd/mm/yyyy or Asian style with the year first as yyyy/mm/dd unless it's yyyy/dd/mm, I'm not sure which, the result reads the same forward or backward:

02022020 (U.S. and Europe), 20200202 (Asia)

The last worldwide palindromic date was November 11, 1111 (11111111), over 900 years ago. There was also one on January 1, 1010 (01011010), more than 56 years before anybody named William thought about conquering anybody named Harold. There was an even earlier palindromic date on October 1st, 1001 (10011001).

Generally speaking, however, palindromic dates are scarcer than hen's teeth.

The next worldwide palindromic date will occur on December 12, 2121 (12122121) but then one won't occur again until March 3, 3030 (03033030), followed by April 4, 4040 (04044040) and May 5, 5050 (05055050), and so on and so forth, by which I mean June 6, 6060 (06066060), July 7, 7070 (07077070), August 8, 8080 (08088080), and September 9, 9090 (09099090).

I'm sorry to inform you that one will not occur in the year 2525.

In The Year 2525
by Zager and Evans (1968)

In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
You ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you
In the year 6565
You won't need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube.

At least there will still be worldwide palindromic dates to look forward to.

On a personal note, today is also the 97th birthday of my friend Rinaldo "Len" Gallucci of Bainbridge, Georgia, whom Mrs. RWP and I have known for 50 years. We visited him and his wife Lorraine in Boynton Beach, Florida, in Boca Raton, Florida, in Ocala, Florida, in Waconia, Minnesota, in Ozark, Missouri, and, finally, in Bainbridge, Georgia. They kept moving but we kept finding them.

Happy, 97th birthday, Len!

These two guys are not named William and Harold. Can you guess who they are?

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...