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I am no stranger to profanity, God knows, but I prefer to use it sparingly. That way, it adds flavor and emphasis to the conversation. Overdoing it is like dumping too much chile powder into the stew. But that’s just one guy’s opinion.

The subject came to mind recently as I was reading the transcripts of some old George Carlin comedy routines.

Carlin, the celebrated comedian, died 10 years ago. People remember him as a caustic critic of society and culture — a master of black comedy, satire, sarcasm, and, notably, profanity.

As you may recall, Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” comedy routine made legal history. In 1973, a father complained to the FCC that a radio station in New York had broadcast the routine without bleeping the dirty words. The FCC reprimanded the radio station. Lawyers promptly filed lawsuits.

In 1978, the Supreme Court upheld the FCC in the case and said the FCC has an obligation to censor as appropriate to shield children from offensive material. (Carlin’s routine, the court said, was “indecent but not obscene.”)

Carlin was hugely talented, one of our greatest comedians. But sometimes, I found myself wishing he would dial back the profanity. His routines (not counting “Seven Dirty Words,” mind you) wouldn’t suffer.

As it happened, spicy Carlin was the only option. And I’m okay with that.

My personal favorite Carlin routine is “A Place For My Stuff.” Another winner: “Interview With Jesus.”

Here are the transcripts.

Carlin-1

A Place For My Stuff

Actually, this is just a place for my stuff, you know? That’s all, a little place for my stuff. That’s all I want, that’s all you need in life, is a little place for your stuff, you know?

I can see it on your table. Everybody’s got a little place for their stuff. This is my stuff, that’s your stuff, that’ll be his stuff over there. That’s all you need in life, a little place for your stuff.

That’s all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn’t have so much stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. You can see that when you’re taking off in an airplane. You look down, you see everybody’s got a little pile of stuff. All the little piles of stuff.

And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn’t want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you’re saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get… more stuff!

Sometimes, you gotta move — gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.

Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else’s house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff! Somebody else’s stuff is all over the (expletive deleted) place!

And if you stay overnight, unexpectedly, they give you a little bedroom to sleep in. Bedroom they haven’t used in about 11 years. Someone died in it, 11 years ago. And they haven’t moved any of his stuff!

Right next to the bed, there’s usually a dresser or a bureau of some kind, and there’s NO ROOM for your stuff on it. Somebody else’s (expletive deleted) is on the dresser.

Have you noticed that their stuff is (expletive deleted), and your (expletive deleted) is stuff? God! And you say, “Get that (expletive deleted) off of there, and let me put my stuff down!”

Sometimes, you leave your house to go on vacation. And you gotta take some of your stuff with you. Gotta take about two big suitcases full of stuff when you go on vacation. You gotta take a smaller version of your house.

It’s the second version of your stuff. And you’re gonna fly all the way to Honolulu. Gonna go across the continent, across half an ocean, to Honolulu. You get down to the hotel room in Honolulu, and you open up your suitcase, and you put away all your stuff.

Here’s a place here, put a little bit of stuff there, put some stuff here, put some stuff — you put your stuff there, I’ll put some stuff — here’s another place for stuff, look at this, I’ll put some stuff here.

And even though you’re far away from home, you start to get used to it. You start to feel okay, because after all, you do have some of your stuff with you.

That’s when your friend calls up from Maui, and says, “Hey, why don’t you come over to Maui for the weekend and spend a couple of nights over here?”

Oh, no! Now what do I pack? Right, you’ve gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The third version of your house. Just enough stuff to take to Maui for a couple of days.

You get over to Maui — I mean, you’re really getting extended now, when you think about it. You got stuff ALL the way back on the mainland, you got stuff on another island, you got stuff on this island. I mean, supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain.

You get over to your friend’s house on Maui, and he gives you a little place to sleep, a little bed right next to his window sill or something. You put some of your stuff up there. You put your stuff up there.

You got your Visine, you got your nail clippers, and you put everything up. It takes about an hour and a half, but after a while you finally feel okay, say, “All right, I got my nail clippers, I must be okay.”

That’s when your friend says, “Aaaaay, I think tonight we’ll go over the other side of the island, visit a pal of mine and maybe stay over.”

Aww, no! NOW what do you pack? Right — you gotta pack an even SMALLER version of your stuff. The fourth version of your house.

Only the stuff you know you’re gonna need. Money, keys, comb, wallet, lighter, hanky, pen, smokes, rubber, and change.

Well, only the stuff you HOPE you’re gonna need.

Carlin-2

Interview With Jesus

I: Ladies and gentlemen, we are privileged to have with us a man known all over the world as the Prince of Peace: Jesus Christ. How are you, Jesus?

JC: Fine, thanks, and let me say, it’s great to be back.

I: Can you tell us, after all this time, why you came back?

JC: Mostly nostalgia.

I: Well, could you tell us, Jesus, a little about the first time you were here?

JC: Well, there’s not much to tell. I think everybody knows the story by now. I was born on Christmas.

I: Yes.

JC: And, uh, actually, that always bothered me, because, uh, that way, I only got one present. You know, if I was born a couple months earlier, I woulda had two presents. But look, I’m not complaining. It’s only material.

I: Were you really born in a stable?

JC: Nah. I was born in a hospital. Bethlehem Jewish Hospital. But the hospital was located in a stable. That’s how the story got started.

I: And is it true that there was no room at the inn?

JC: Oh, no, they had room. It’s just that we didn’t have reservations. My father, Joseph — God bless him — he was a simple man. He didn’t travel much. He forgot to make reservations.

I: There’s a story that there were three wise men.

JC: Well, there were three kings who showed up. Uh, I don’t know how wise they were. They didn’t look wise. They said they followed a star. That don’t sound wise to me.

I: Didn’t they bring gifts?

JC: Yes. Gold, frankincense, and, I believe, myrrh, which I never did find out what that was. You wouldn’t happen to know what myrrh is for, do you?

I: Well, I believe it’s a reddish-brown, bitter, gum resin.

JC: Oh, great, great! Just what I need — a gum resin! What am I going to do with a gum resin? I’d rather have the money. That way, I could go out and buy something I need. You know, something I wouldn’t normally buy for myself.

I: What would that be?


JC: Oh, I don’t know. A bathing suit. I never had a bathing suit. Maybe a Devo hat. A bicycle. I really coulda used a bicycle. You realize all the walkin’ I did? I musta crossed Canaan six, eight times. Up and down, north and south. Walkin’ and talkin’. Doin’ miracles, tellin’ stories.

I: Tell us about the miracles. How many miracles did you perform?

JC: A total of 107 miracles, not counting the loaves and the fishes.

I: Why don’t you count the loaves and the fishes?

JC: Well, technically, that one wasn’t a miracle.

I: It wasn’t?

JC: No. Turns out, a lot of people were puttin’ ’em back. Didn’t like ’em. Actually, not all those miracles were pure miracles anyway.

I: (Surprised) What do you mean? What were they if they weren’t miracles?

JC: Well, some of them were parlor tricks, optical illusions, mass hypnosis. We had hallucinations, even acupressure. That was how I cured most of the blind guys. Acupressure.

I: So, not all of the New Testament is true.

JC: No. Some of that gospel stuff never happened at all. It was just made up. Luke and Mark used a lot of drugs. See, Luke was a physician and he had access to drugs. Matthew and John were okay, but Luke and Mark would write anything.

I: What about raising Lazarus from the dead?

JC: First of all, he wasn’t dead. He was hung over. I told people that.

I: But in the Bible, you said he was dead.

JC: Uh-uh. I said he looked dead. I said, “Hey! He looks dead!” You see, Lazarus was a very heavy sleeper. Plus, the day before, we had been to a wedding feast and he had put away a lot of wine.

I: Ah, was that the Wedding Feast at Cana, where you changed the water into wine?

JC: Uh, I don’t know. I, uh, we went to an awful lot of wedding feasts in those days.

I: But did you really ever turn water into wine?

JC: Not that I know of. Uh, one time, I did turn apple juice into milk, but I really don’t remember the water and wine thing.

I: All right, speaking of water, let me ask you about another miracle: walking on the water. I mean, did that really happen?

JC: Oh, yeah, that was one that really happened. You see, the problem was, I could do it, the other guys couldn’t do it. They were jealous. Peter got mad at me, so he got these shoes made. Special big shoes that if you start out walkin’ real fast, you can float on the water for awhile. Then of course, after a few yards, lalalalooms, he goes right down into the water. He sinks like a rock. That’s why I call him Peter. “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I shall build my Church.”

I: Well, that brings up the Apostles. Uh, what can you tell us about the Apostles?

JC: Well, they were a good bunch of guys, you know. They smelled a little like bait, but oh, they was a good bunch of guys. Thirteen of ’em we had.

I: Thirteen? The Bible says there were only twelve.

JC: Well that was according to St. Luke and I told you about Luke. Actually, we had 13 apostles. We had Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James — that’s a different James — Thaddeus… Let’s see, how many is that?

I: That’s 10.

JC: Okay. Uh, Simon, Judas, and Red.

I: Red?

JC: Yeah. We call him “Red the Apostle.”

I: Red the Apostle?

JC: Uh-hmm.

I: He doesn’t appear in the Bible.

JC: Nah. He kept pretty much to himself. He never came to any of the miracles. He was a little strange. He thought the Red Sea was named after him.

I: What about Judas?

JC: Hey, don’t get me started on Judas.

I: Okay. Well, what about the other apostles. Uh, say for instance, Thomas. Was he really a doubter?

JC: This guy, Thomas, you couldn’t tell him nothin’, you know? He was always askin’ me for my ID. Soon as I see him — “Got any ID?” To this day, he doesn’t believe I’m God.

I: Are you God?

JC: Well, partly. You know that. I’m a member of the Trinity.

I: Yes, in fact you’ve written a book about the Trinity, haven’t you.

JC: That’s right. It’s called, “Three’s a Crowd.”

I: “Three’s a Crowd.”

JC: Um-hmm.

I: As I understand it, it’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled attack on the Holy Ghost.

JC: Listen, it’s not an attack. You wanna know what it is? I don’t get along with the Holy Ghost, all right? So I leave him alone. That’s it. What he does is his business.

I: Well, why? What’s the reason?

JC: Well, first of all, you never know who he’s gonna be. Every day he shows up, he’s somethin’ different. One day he comes in the meetin’, he’s a dove. Another day he’s a tongue of fire. Always foolin’ around. (annoyed) Listen, I don’t bother with the guy. I don’t wanna know about him. I don’t see him. I don’t talk to him.

I: Well, let me change the subject. Is there really a place called Hell?

JC: Oh, yeah, there’s a Hell. Sure. There’s also a Heck. It’s not as severe, but we got Heck and Hell.

I: What about Purgatory?

JC: No. Don’t know nothin’ about no Purgatory. We got Heaven, Hell, Heck, and Limbo.

I: What is Limbo like?

JC: I don’t know. No one’s allowed in there. If anyone was in there, it wouldn’t be Limbo. Then it would be a place.

I: Getting back to your previous visit, Jesus, what can you tell us about The Last Supper?

JC: Well, first of all, if I had known I was gonna be crucified, I woulda had a bigger meal. You never want to be crucified on an empty stomach.

I: The Crucifixion must have been terrible.

JC: It was awful, I gotta tell ya. Unless you’ve gone through it yourself, you could never know how painful it was. And tiring. It was very, very tiring and embarrassing. I think, more than anything, it was embarrassing. You know, right in front of everybody to be crucified. But I don’t know, I guess it redeemed a lot of people.

I: Were you scared?

JC: Yeah. Near the end, I thought it was gonna rain. I was afraid I might get hit by lightning. But, all in all, I would say when I was here, I had a good time.

I: What do you think about Christianity?

JC: Well, I’m a little embarrassed by it. Uh, if I had to do it over again, I think I would start one of them Eastern religions, like Buddha did. Now, Buddha was smart. That’s why he’s laughing.

I: You wouldn’t want to be a Christian?

JC: No. I would never want to be a member of any group whose symbol is a man nailed onto two pieces of wood. Especially if it’s me! Buddha’s laughing, I’m on the cross!

I: I have a few more questions; do you mind?

JC: Hey, be my guest. How often do I get here?

I: Are there really angels?

JC: Well, not as many as we used to have. Years ago, we had millions of ’em. Today, you can’t get the young people to join. You know, it got too dangerous, with radar and heat-seeking missiles.

I: What about guardian angels?

JC: Well, we still have guardian angels, but now it’s one angel for every six people. Years ago, everybody had his own angel.

I: Do you really answer prayers?

JC: No. First of all, most of ’em don’t even get through. I mean, you got sunspots, you got radio interference. Years ago we answered them all. But years ago, there were less people. And people prayed for something simple then — to light a fire, to catch a yak; somethin’ like that. But today, you got people prayin’ for hockey teams, people prayin’ for longer fingernails. We just can’t keep up with it.

I: Well, I think we’re just about out of time. I certainly want to thank you for visiting with us.

JC: Hey, no sweat.

I: Do you have any last thoughts or words of advice?

JC: What — you mean how to remove perspiration stains from a garment, somethin’ like that?

I: No, I mean spiritual advice.

JC; Well, I don’t know how spiritual it is, but I’d say one thing is, don’t give your money to the church. They should be givin’ their money to you.

I: Well, thank you Jesus, and good night.

JC: Well, good night. Thanks for having me on here today. By the way, big bands are definitely not comin’ back.

———

In my next post, more classic Carlin.

Carlin-3

 

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The late William Safire was a New York Times columnist and Nixon speechwriter who called himself a “libertarian conservative.” Clearly, Safire was not on my wavelength, because I think libertarians are naive and conservatives are selfish and mean.

But we were sympatico in one respect. In spite of Safire’s noxious politics, he was an expert wordsmith and devoted etymologist. I like that in a person.

From 1979 until his death, Safire wrote the weekly column “On Language” in the New York Times Magazine. During those 30 years, he wrote over 1300 columns about words, word origins, meanings, usage, and the evolution of language.

In particular, Safire is known for his list of “fumblerules.” He defined a fumblerule as a rule of language, humorously written in a way that breaks the rule itself. A masterful way to make the point with clarity.

Here is a list of Safire’s fumblerules. Some were published in his weekly column, others in his book “Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage.”

———

1. Remember to never split an infinitive.

2. A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.

3. The passive voice should never be used.

4. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.

5. Don’t use no double negatives.

6. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t.

7. Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not needed.

8. Do not put statements in the negative form.

9. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.

10. No sentence fragments.

11. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.

12. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.

13. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

14. A writer must not shift your point of view.

15. Eschew dialect, irregardless.

16. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

17. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!

18. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

19. Always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hy-

phens.

20. Write all adverbial forms correct.

21. Don’t use contractions in formal writing.

22. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

23. It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.

24. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

25. Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.

26. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

27. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

28. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

29. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

30. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.

31. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.

32. Don’t string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

33. Always pick on the correct idiom.

34. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.”‘”

35. The adverb always follows the verb.

36. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; they’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.

37. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

38. Employ the vernacular.

39. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

40. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

41. Contractions aren’t necessary.

42. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

43. One should never generalize.

44. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

45. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

46. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

47. Be more or less specific.

48. Understatement is always best.

49. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

50. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

51. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

52. Who needs rhetorical questions?

53. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

54. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point

Safire W

William Lewis Safire (1929-2009)

 

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Headline Bloopers

More headlines botched by assorted newspapers over the years. Proofread and think, people!

 

Man Stabbed 37 Times, Police Rule Out Suicide

March Planned for Next August

Patient at Death’s Door, Doctors Pull Him Through

Teacher Strikes Idle Kids

Bloopers 3-1

Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case

British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands

Safety Experts Say Bus Riders Should Be Belted

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge

Bloopers 3-2

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Include Your Children When Baking Cookies

One-Armed Man Applauds Kindness of Strangers

Stiff Opposition Expected to Casketless Funeral Plan

Bloopers 3-3

Man Accused of Killing Lawyer Gets New Attorney

Parents Keep Kids Home to Protest School Closure

Hooker Named Indoor Athlete of the Year

Two Sisters Reunite After 18 Years at Checkout Counter

Bloopers 3-4

 

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More headlines that were botched by assorted newspapers over the years. Proofread and think, people!

 

Milk Drinkers are Turning to Powder

Farmer Bill Dies in House

Lawmen from Mexico Barbecue Guests

Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over

Bloopers 2-1

If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly It May Last a While

Blind Woman Gets New Kidney from Dad She Hasn’t Seen in Years

Man Fatally Slain

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say

Bloopers 2-2

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax

Never Withhold Herpes from Loved One

Child’s Stool Great for Use in Garden

Bloopers 2-3

Dr. Ruth to Talk About Sex With Newspaper Editors

Autos Killing 110 a Day — Let’s Resolve to Do Better

Miners Refuse to Work After Death

Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again

Bloopers 2-4

 

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Headline Bloopers

Remember newspapers? To jog your memory, here are some headlines botched by assorted newspapers over the years. Proofread and think, people!

————

15 Pit Bulls Rescued, Two Arrested

Deaf Mute Gets New Hearing in Killing

Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung

War Dims Hope for Peace

Bloopers 1-1

Queen Mary Having Bottom Scraped

Homeless Man Under House Arrest

Smokers are Productive, but Death Cuts Efficiency

Dealers Will Hear Car Talk at Noon

Bloopers 1-2

Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

Nicaragua Sets Goal to Wipe Out Literacy

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Bloopers 1-3

Death Causes Loneliness, Feeling of Isolation

Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

William Kelly, 87, was Fed Secretary

Bloopers 1-4

 

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Presented as a public service by the management of this blog.

————

# 1 – Advice for Men

GIFTS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE:

– Cleaning supplies or any item designed to make housework easier.

– Anti-wrinkle cream.

– Sleepwear that depicts a cartoon character or superhero, is made of flannel, or has a trap door in the back.

– Anything from an infomercial.

– Perfume that was such a bargain, you couldn’t pass it up.

– A gift certificate to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig.

– Cubic zirconia jewelry from the Home Shopping Network.

– Any other product from the Home Shopping Network.

– A gift that, by any stretch of the imagination, would be of the slightest use to you.

– Clothing. Don’t even try.

HSN

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A few years ago, I wrote a post about Theodore Roosevelt, who was President from 1901 to 1909, and his relationship with the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson. Both men were fiercely determined, undeterred by obstacles. They elevated stubborn to an art form.

Teddy got that way by sheer willpower. He overcame a sickly childhood (asthma and other health problems) and grew to be an energetic outdoorsman — a rancher, big-game hunter, and world explorer. He went on to become a war hero and a political leader of great significance.

Roosevelt T

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858-1919)

Roosevelt’s love of nature and the outdoors made him an early champion of wildlife protection and land conservation. He became President at a time when westward expansion and industrial progress were beginning to take their toll on the environment, and he happily used his powers to protect public lands.

Teddy was a fan of national parks in particular because park status blocks private development on the land. By law, however, national parks are created by Congress. And Congress isn’t always cool with a President’s wishes.

Roosevelt responded by turning to a controversial workaround: the presidential executive order.

Back then, executive orders were a rare thing. One example: Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation by executive order. But Roosevelt applied the concept often and to more mundane matters.

In 1906, concerned about pot-hunters raiding prehistoric sites around the Southwest, Congress passed the Antiquities Act, which charged the executive branch with “the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” The act gave the President the power to establish protected areas called National Monuments.

Teddy saw the opening and made his move.

Congress had long resisted making Grand Canyon a national park, so in January 1908, Teddy declared 800,000 acres in Northern Arizona to be Grand Canyon National Monument. Congress was furious, and Grand Canyon wasn’t given national park status until 1919.

But, as of early 1908, Grand Canyon was under federal protection. Teddy relished the opportunity this presented. In all, over the course of his presidency, he established 18 national monuments.

Roosevelt’s first visit to Grand Canyon was on May 6, 1903. (Accompanying him was Territorial Governor Alexander Brodie, a veteran of the Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War. Brodie had served with Teddy in the Rough Riders; their friendship led to Brodie’s appointment in 1902 as the 15th Governor of the Arizona Territory.)

Teddy’s speech that day, part prepared text and part impromptu, was memorable. His genuine concern for the Canyon and his passion for conservation are clear.

After the usual acknowledgments, accolades, and blah-blah, Roosevelt said this:

————

In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world.

I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it, in your own interest and in the interest of the country: to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is.

I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.

What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it.

If you deal with irrigation, apply it under circumstances that will make it of benefit — not to the speculator who hopes to get profit out of it for two or three years, but handle it so that it will be of use to the home-maker, to the man who comes to live here, and to have his children stay after him.

Keep the forests in the same way. Preserve the forests by use; preserve them for the ranchman and the stockman, for the people of the Territory, for the people of the region round about.

Preserve them for that use, but use them so that they will not be squandered, that they will not be wasted — so that they will be of benefit to the Arizona of 1953 as well as the Arizona of 1903.

————

If Teddy were around today to see Grand Canyon, he probably would be disheartened.

Yes, the Canyon abides. It remains much as it was in 1903 — largely intact, still stunning and majestic.

But the place is too popular for its own good. At certain times and in certain places, it is overwhelmed with visitors.

GC Railroad

GC entrance

GC tourists

As for Roosevelt’s plea not to erect buildings of any kind at Grand Canyon because they would “mar the wonderful grandeur” — well, posterity ignored that part.

Surely Roosevelt knew that was a pipe dream anyway.

D0727

Aerial view of one section of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Shown are three large hotels, a three-story gift shop, and an employee dormitory. Plus that passenger train in the foreground.

 

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The Affluent Class

miser (my-zer) — A person who hoards money and possessions and spends as little as possible, even to the person’s detriment. A cheapskate, penny-pincher, tightwad.

——————

Jean Paul Getty was born in Minneapolis in 1892, the son of George Getty, owner of a successful oil company. J. Paul studied economics and political science at UC Berkeley and Oxford, and he spent his summers working in his father’s oil fields in Oklahoma.

In 1916, at age 24, J. Paul started his own oil company in Tulsa. He made his first independent million with the first oil well he drilled.

In 1917, Getty walked away from the oil industry and embraced the hedonistic life of a Los Angeles playboy. He rejoined his father’s business in 1919, and throughout the 1920s, Getty Oil continued to grow and amass wealth with new wells and lease investments.

But J. Paul did not measure up in his father’s eyes. When George died in 1930, he left J. Paul just $500,000 of his $10 million fortune. The boy, he told friends, was ill-equipped to lead the company.

J. Paul managed to gain control of Getty Oil anyway. As if to prove his dad wrong, he began expanding the business through mergers, acquisitions, and shrewd investments.

During the Depression, while fortunes were being lost, Getty gained controlling interest in some 200 companies worldwide. He learned to speak Arabic to help solidify his investments in the Middle East. He amassed a personal fortune of $4 billion, making him one of the richest men in the world.

In the 1950s, he moved to Britain and purchased Sutton Place, a 16th century Tudor estate on the outskirts of London. It became his home and business headquarters.

Getty was famous for his business success and notorious for being married and divorced five times. He had five sons.

He also was known to be miserly in the extreme. At Sutton Place, he put dial-locks on the telephones, restricting them to authorized staff, and installed a pay phone for visitors.

If anyone questioned the sincerity of his Scrooge-like tendencies, all doubts were dispelled in 1973, when one of his grandsons was kidnapped and Getty refused to pay the ransom.

In Rome on July 10, Italian gangsters abducted J. Paul Getty III, 16, and demanded $17 million for his return. At first, the boy’s father and grandfather suspected the boy had staged his own disappearance for money, and neither wanted to pay the ransom.

But the boy’s father soon concluded that the kidnapping was real. When he asked his father for the ransom money, the elder Getty refused.

“I have 14 grandchildren,” he said in a statement to reporters. “If I pay one penny ransom, I’ll have 14 kidnapped grandchildren.”

Several months later, a Rome newspaper received a package from the kidnappers containing a human ear, a lock of hair, and a revised demand for $3 million.

A photograph soon followed showing the boy minus an ear. The kidnappers wrote that unless their new demand was met within 10 days, “the other ear will arrive.”

With that, Getty relented, but only to the extent his accountants recommended. He agreed to pay $2.2 million, the maximum that would be tax-deductible.

He loaned the remaining $800,000 to his son at four percent interest.

The ransom thus paid, the kidnappers released Getty’s grandson on December 15, 1973, which was J. Paul’s 81st birthday. The boy immediately called his grandfather to thank him for paying the ransom. Getty refused to come to the phone.

After the kidnapping, J. Paul ended all contact with his son and grandson. Thereafter, he communicated with them only through intermediaries.

In 1976, at age 83, Getty died of heart failure, estranged from much of his family, still rich and no doubt still miserly.

J. Paul Getty II fought depression and drug addiction until the 1980s, when he cleaned himself up. Subsequently, he used his substantial wealth to became a philanthropist and a collector of rare books and art.

He became a British citizen and was knighted in 1986 for his generous donations to the National Gallery in London. He died in 2003 at age 80.

J. Paul Getty III never again spoke to his father or grandfather, or tried to. Nor did he recover from the trauma of the kidnapping.

In 1981, a stroke brought on by a toxic mix of drugs and alcohol left J. Paul III partially paralyzed, nearly blind, and unable to speak. He remained wheelchair-bound until his death in 2011 at age 54.

Being rich and famous does not, of itself, make a person a reprehensible jerk. The wealthy don’t have a lock on being loathsome and dishonorable.

But so many in the affluent class qualify for that description that you have to wonder about cause and effect.

J. Paul.

J. Paul.

J. Paul II.

J. Paul II.

J. Paul III.

J. Paul III.

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A month or so ago, I pulled up behind a large black SUV at a traffic light. The stick figure family, I observed, reached halfway across the back window.

According to the stickers, the family consisted of Mom, Dad, two girls, two boys, a dog, a cat, and a turtle.

The vehicle was seriously dirty. It was covered in a uniform, yellowy-orangish layer that was a mixture of (1) Georgia red clay, which, when dry, is as fine as baby powder and adheres nicely to waxed metal, and (2) pine pollen, which was afflicting us at the time.

Written in the thick coating on the back window, clearly by different fingers, were four names: Kaylan, Shiloh, Holder, and Pruitt.

Fine names all, but more to the point, they reminded me of how American baby names have evolved over the years.

For example, consider the names a few generations ago of my Dad and his siblings. They were Walter Anthony, James Allan, John Daniel, and Martha Elizabeth.

Dad’s kids: Walter Allan, Frank Lee, Thomas Daniel, and Helen Elizabeth.

My kids: Britt David and Dustin Drew.

Their kids: Kathryn Sierra, Kelsey Elizabeth, Madeleine Grace, and Sarah Rose.

All in all, a mixture of the classic and the popular. You can see the evolution of name choices in this one family.

Seeing the names on the back of the SUV got me curious, so I Googled the subject. Below is the official list (from Social Security records) of the most common American baby names over the years.

Baby names-1

1945

James, Robert, John, William, Richard
Mary, Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol

1955

Michael, David, James, Robert, John
Mary, Deborah, Linda, Debra, Susan

1965

Michael, John, David, James, Robert
Lisa, Mary, Karen, Kimberly, Susan

1975

Michael, Jason, Christopher, James, David
Jennifer, Amy, Heather, Melissa, Angela

1985

Michael, Christopher, Matthew, Joshua, Daniel
Jessica, Ashley, Jennifer, Amanda, Sarah

1995

Michael, Matthew, Christopher, Jacob, Joshua
Jessica, Ashley, Emily, Samantha, Sarah

2005

Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Ethan
Emily, Emma, Madison, Abigail, Olivia

2015

Liam, Noah, Mason, Ethan, Logan
Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Isabella

—————-

A few last random points about names…

— I always liked the name Brandi, but I didn’t have a daughter.
— My granddaughters have pals named Sophia, Isabella, Olivia, and Madison.
— The boys who live next door to me are Eli and Aiden.
— Among my childhood friends were Claude Lumpkin and Merwyn Lassiter.
— My dad grew up with a kid named Gober Soseby.
— The name Walter is no prize, but at least it isn’t Claude, Merwyn, or Gober.
Baby names-2

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Once again, here is a batch of memorable Hollywood movie scenes, just for the enjoyment. This is a follow-up to two of my earlier posts, Great Movie Scenes and More Great Movie Scenes.

Granted, motion pictures aren’t society’s highest form of art. But sometimes, they assemble the words, images, and emotions to nail the moment pretty well.

—————

“This Individuality Stuff is a Bunch  of Crap”

From “Patton,” 1970

Patton

(In 1944, General George S. Patton, Jr. steps onto a stage before soldiers of the Third Army. His custom-tailored uniform is resplendent with medals and ivory-handled pistols. A giant American flag is in the background. He salutes, standing ramrod straight as a bugler plays “To the Color.” Then he addresses the men.)

General Patton (George C. Scott): Be seated.

I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.

When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.

Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious bastards who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about fornicating.

Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor bastards we’re going up against. By God, I do. We’re not just going to shoot the bastards. We’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel.

Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do.

Now, there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we’re not interested in holding onto anything — except the enemy.

We’re going to hold onto him by the nose, and we’re gonna kick him in the ass. We’re gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we’re gonna go through him like crap through a goose!

Now, there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, “Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.”

All right, now, you sons-of-bitches, you know how I feel.

Oh, I will be proud to lead you wonderful guys into battle anytime, anywhere.

That’s all.

—————

“There is Justice in our Hearts”

From “The Verdict,” 1982

The Verdict

(Disgraced attorney Frank Galvin is about to lose a medical malpractice case against a prominent surgeon because the revealing testimony of a nurse was disallowed on a technicality. Galvin’s subdued closing argument sways the jury to his side anyway.)

Galvin (Paul Newman): Well, you know, so much of the time, we’re just lost. We say, ‘Please, God, tell us what is right, tell us what is true.’

I mean, there is no justice. The rich win. The poor are powerless. We become tired of hearing people lie. And after a time we become dead. A little dead. We think of ourselves as victims, and we become victims.

We become weak. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. We doubt our institutions. And we doubt the law.

But today, YOU are the law. You ARE the law. Not some book, not the lawyers, not a marble statue, or the trappings of the court. Those are just symbols of our desire to be just. They are, in fact, a prayer. I mean a fervent and a frightened prayer.

In my religion, they say, ‘Act as if you have faith, and faith will be given to you.’ If we are to have faith in justice, we need only to believe in ourselves and act with justice.

See, I believe there is justice in our hearts.

(With a slight shrug, he turns and walks away from the jury box.)

—————

“Cyborgs Don’t Feel Pain. I Do. “

From “The Terminator,” 1984

The Terminator

(Sarah Connor lies terrified on the seat of a speeding sedan driven by her rescuer, Kyle Reese. For the moment, they have eluded the Terminator. Kyle speaks in a clipped, authoritative voice.)

Kyle (Michael Biehn): I’m here to help you. I’m Reese. Sergeant, Tech-Com, DN38416. Assigned to protect you. You’ve been targeted for termination.

Sarah (Linda Hamilton): This is a mistake! I didn’t do anything!

Kyle: No, but you will. It’s very important that you live.

Sarah: I can’t believe this is happening! How could that man just get up after you —

Kyle: Not a man. A Terminator. Cyberdyne Systems Model 101.

Sarah: A machine? You mean, like a robot?

Kyle: Not a robot. Cyborg. Cybernetic organism. All right, listen: the Terminator is an infiltration unit. Part man, part machine. Underneath, it’s a hyper-alloy combat chassis. Microprocessor controlled. Fully armored, very tough. But outside, it’s living, human tissue. Flesh, skin, hair, blood. Grown for the cyborgs.

Sarah: Look, Reese, I know you want to help, but —

Kyle: Pay attention! The 600 Series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait till he moved on you before I could zero him.

Sarah: Hey, I’m not stupid, you know! They can’t build anything like that yet!

Kyle: No, not yet. Not for about forty years.

Sarah: So, it’s from the future, is that right?

Kyle: One possible future. From your point of view. I don’t know tech stuff.

Sarah: And you’re from the future, too?

Kyle: Right.

(Reese stops at a red light. Sarah tries to run, but he drags her struggling back into the car. She sinks her teeth into his hand, draws blood. He shows no reaction.)

Kyle: Cyborgs don’t feel pain. I do. Don’t do that again.

Sarah (pleading weakly:) Just let me go.

Kyle: Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be bargained with. It doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!

Sarah (quietly): Can you stop it?

Kyle: Maybe. With these weapons… I don’t know.

—————

“I Just Want to Hit Something”

From “Steel Magnolias,” 1989

Steel Magnolias

(In a small Louisiana town, young Shelby Latcherie, diabetic mother of a one-year-old boy, has rejected a liver donated by her mother M’Lynn Eatonton and died. At graveside, after everyone else is gone, M’Lynn is alone with four close friends. One of them, Truvy Jones, has just touched up M’Lynn’s hair.)

M’Lynn (Sally Field): Last night, I went into Shelby’s closet for something, and guess what I found? All our Christmas presents. Stacked up. Wrapped. With her own two hands. I’d better go.

Truvy (Dolly Parton, handing M’Lynn a mirror): Better check the back.

M’Lynn: Perfect, As always. (She continues to gaze into the mirror.) You know, Shelby was right. It — it does kind of look like a blond football helmet. (She breaks down.)

Truvy: Honey, sit right back down. Do you feel alright?

M’Lynn (launching into a tirade): Yes! Yes! I feel fine! I feel great! I could jog to Texas and back, but my daughter can’t! She never could! I am so mad I don’t know what to do!

I want to know why! I want to know why Shelby’s life is over! How is that baby ever going to understand how wonderful his mother was? Will he ever understand what she went through for him?

I don’t understand! Lord, I wish I could. It is NOT supposed to happen this way. I’m supposed to go first. I’ve always been READY to go first.

I can’t stand this! I just want to hit somebody until they feel as bad as I do. I — I just want to hit something! And hit it hard!

(Clairee Belcher steps behind Louisa “Ouiser” Boudreaux and pushes her forward.)

Clairee (Olympia Dukakis): Here! Hit this! Go ahead, M’Lynn, slap her!

Ouiser (Shirley McClain): Are you crazy?

Clairee: Hit her!

Ouiser: Are you high?

Truvy: Clairee, have you lost your mind?

Clairee: We can sell t-shirts saying “I Slapped Ouiser Boudreaux!” Hit her!

Ouiser: Truvy, dial 9-1-1!

Clairee: Don’t let her beauty stand in the way! Hit her!

Annelle Desoto (Daryl Hannah): Miss Clairee, enough!

M’Lynn (regaining her composure): Hush, Clairee.

Ouiser: Let go of me!

Clairee: Well, M’Lynn, you just missed the chance of a lifetime. Most of Chinquapin Parish would give their eye teeth to take a whack at Ouiser.

Ouiser: You are a pig from hell.

Clairee: Okay, all right. Hit ME, then. I deserve it.

—————

“The Fall Will Kill You”

From “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1969

Butch and Sundance

(For days, Butch and Sundance have fled on horseback from a relentless, tireless “superposse.” Suddenly, their rocky path through the mountains ends at a sheer cliff. They are trapped. Members of the posse begin climbing to outflank them.)

The Sundance Kid (Robert Redford): They’re going for position, all right. (He takes out his guns and examines them.) We better get ready.

Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman): The next time I say let’s go somewhere like Bolivia, let’s go somewhere like Bolivia.

Sundance: Next time. You ready, Butch?

Butch (suddenly getting an idea): No! We’ll jump!

(The camera pans down to a fast-flowing river 50 feet below.)

Sundance: Like hell we will.

Butch: No, it’s gonna be okay — if the water’s deep enough we don’t get squished to death. They’ll never follow us!

Sundance: How do you know?

Butch: Would you make a jump like that you didn’t have to?

Sundance: I have to, and I’m not gonna.

Butch: Well, we got to, otherwise we’re dead. They’re just gonna have to go back down the same way they came. Come on!

Sundance (looking up the mountain): Just one clear shot, that’s all I want.

Butch: Come on!

Sundance: Nope.

Butch: We got to!

Sundance: No. Get away from me.

Butch: Why?

Sundance: I wanna fight ’em.

Butch: They’ll kill us!

Sundance: Maybe.

Butch: You wanna die?

Sundance (gesturing toward the river below): Do you?

Butch: All right, I’ll jump first.

Sundance: No.

Butch: Then you jump first.

Sundance: NO, I said!

Butch: What’s the matter with you?

Sundance (shouting): I can’t swim!

(Butch stares at Sundance blankly, then roars with laughter.)

Butch: Why, are you crazy? The fall’ll probably kill ya!

(Butch takes off his gun belt, holds one end, and offers the other end to Sundance. Sundance wraps it tight around his hand. They run toward the edge of the cliff and leap off together.)

Sundance (yelling as they fall): Oooohhhhhh shhhiiiiii—!!!!!!

—————

“That is Why You Fail”

From “The Empire Strikes Back,” 1980

Use the Force

(On the planet Degobah, young Luke Skywalker tries to use “the Force” to raise his X-wing fighter from the swamp, but fails. The fighter slips back under the water.)

Luke (Mark Hamill): Oh, no! We’ll never get it out now!

Jedi Master Yoda (Voice of Frank Oz): So certain are you. (He sighs.) Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?

Luke: Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally different.

Yoda: No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

Luke: All right, I’ll give it a try.

Yoda: No! Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.

Luke (failing again): I can’t. It’s too big.

Yoda: Size matters not! Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmph! And well you should not, for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us.

Luminous beings are we (he pinches Luke’s bare shoulder) — not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you! Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere! Yes, even between the land and the ship.

Luke: You want the impossible. (He walks away.)

(Yoda, concentrating deeply, levitates the ship and sets it on dry land.)

Yoda (Exhaling): Mmm…

Luke: I don’t — I don’t believe it.

Yoda: That is why you fail.

 

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