Archive for the ‘Miscellanea’ Category

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


– 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.


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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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


(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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Full Disclosure

On Monday, I posted an installment of “This Just In,” one of the regular features on this blog. “This Just In” is a mish-mash of brief, slice-of-life stories from the news that are either funny or ridiculous or both.

The installment in question included this item:


MOUNTAIN CITY, TENNESSEE — A veteran city police officer was fired last month after he  discharged his weapon inside a Dollar General store, killing a squirrel.

In September, Officer Jody Putnam responded to a call from the store manager, who reported that a squirrel was scampering around inside the store and frightening customers. Initially, Putnam pepper-sprayed the squirrel, but the fumes spread and sent customers running for the exits, hacking and coughing.

Putnam then drew his handgun and fired multiple shots, killing the squirrel. The remaining customers stampeded from the store in panic.

Mountain City officers are required by city ordinance to file a written report after a weapon is discharged. Putnam refused to file a report and was terminated by the City Council.



Yesterday, I received an email from an informed reader that included former officer Putnam’s own version of the squirrel incident, which he sent to a local TV station.

It contains much surprising information — including (1) the fact that the squirrel, far from being blown away as news reports stated, was captured, taken from the building, and released unharmed, and (2) the fact that Mr. Putnam is running for county sheriff next year. Wow.

Maybe, the informed reader gently suggested, I should post Putnam’s side of the story, too.

Indeed, I should. Here, in the interest of full disclosure, is former officer Putnam’s account, complete and unedited.


In late September I received a call from my 911 dispatch stating there was a squirrel inside the Dollar General Store on Church Street in Mountain City. At the time of receiving the call from 911 dispatch they stated to me that they were unable to get Animal Control or the T.W.R.A. to respond to the incident.

Upon my arrival I was told by the store manager that a squirrel was loose inside the building, and she was afraid it may bite one of the customers, and that it was also destroying merchandise inside the store.

At that time she directed me to the shelving inside the store, stating the animal was behind the shelf and between the wall. A short time later we were able to locate the animal in the bottom base of one of the shelves.

At that time I placed phone calls again trying to see if I could get Animal Control to respond, but again a response from them was not available.

I told the store manager this, and she stated we have to do something because I am concerned the animal may bite someone.

I told her my resources were limited in what I had to take care of the situation, and that I did not have any equipment to catch the animal.

She asked me if I could spray the animal in an effort to try to get it out of the building and I stated to her you know you are asking me to deploy my chemical weapon on this animal.

She said yes I know that, but if we can’t get a response from Animal Control, then we have to do something to remove the animal.

I told her that if I deployed my chemical weapon on the animal that I was not concerned about the pepper agent causing a problem because it has to be in direct contact with the skin, but that there would likely be a small amount of CS gas that would disperse in the building.

She stated she understood, but to go ahead and try to get it out. I told her to turn up her ventilation system, and open the doors to the building as well as suggesting placing fans at the door to aid in ventilation of the building.

She took this action and with the help of a customer we located the animal again in the base cabinet, and I deployed a one second burst of chemical spray onto the animal.

The animal did not come out and exit the building like I hoped it would, but instead continued it’s way toward the middle of the building, still staying behind the shelves, and out of my reach.

I then received another phone call and was told that they were still unable to get Animal control. I then relayed this information to the store manager.

At this time she asked me if I could shoot the animal. I advised her that with the type of ammo I carried that shooting the animal with that ammo would be overkill, and I would rather not kill it if possible. I then checked an found I had a low grain round of ammo and told her that I could use this round, but my intention was to stun the animal, not to kill it.

She said that was fine. I instructed her to get a heavy towel to throw on the animal so we could get it out of the building. I also told her to instruct everyone inside the building to move to the far side wall away from me for their safety, and to create a cover for them, and also told her to advise everyone that there was a possibility they may hear a handgun go off inside the building.

I then checked outside of the building to make sure nobody could be harmed if the round discharged made it through the wall.

I then re-entered the building went to the area where the animal was at, as well as the store manager. She then vacated the area also going to the far side of the building.

I then started watching the animal and as it traveled down the shelves coming closer to me I took my pistol and when it was directly in front of me I discharged one shot into the shelf, and the wall at a distance of around 7 to 10 inches from myself and the wall.

The animal then exited the shelf started running through the store, and I was running after it. As I closed on the animal I holstered my firearm, and stepped on the animal’s tail to catch it.

At that time I instructed the store manager to throw the towel on the animal wrap it up and head out the door with it, at which time she did, and the animal was released unharmed.

As for the rumors of screams inside the building, none was heard except from the animal once I caught it.

I was then notified that Animal Control was on their way to which I told them to disregard because I had already taken care of the problem.

As for Mr. Duffield that spoke on the news, he was not in the building except the time I arrived, and we were talking about how to get the animal. He left the building as soon as the burst of chemical weapon was deployed.

The reason I took the measures I took was because I was concerned that if I refused to take action after being dispatched on the call, and had I have not taken some action to resolve the problem, and the animal did in fact bite someone inside the building I could have been liable for that if I did not take some kind of action to resolve the problem.

It was a damned if you do and a damned if you don’t situation, and I had to make a judgement call.

I can assure you that I exercised every precaution I could take to ensure no human life was in jeopardy but that of mine only.

I am trained to preserve life, and property. Not jeopardize it.

This incident happened on a Thursday evening just around 5pm and I heard nothing else about this incident until the following Tuesday when I was not working, and I recieved a call from the Chief. He wanted to know why there was no report on the animal call, which I told him there was not one, and found this request unusual because we normally have never been required to file a report on an animal call.

I asked him why do you need a report, what is going on, and he stated to me “you violated department policy by discharging a firearm inside a business” and then requested me to come to the department over the incident.

I then made a phone call to the Sergeant of the Department and asked him what was going on, and he stated to me the Assistant Chief and an Investigator are at the Dollar Store trying to get the bullet out of the wall, and the Chief has me out trying to obtain statements from people about the incident.

I then called the Chief back, and asked him not once, but three times if I was under investigation, and after asking for the third time he stated “I guess if that’s what you want to call it” I then advised him I was not issuing any written report, or statements until I spoke to counsel, due to not being notified I was under investigation, and not being advised of my Garrity Rights.

I did however secure my department policy manual, and did not find any prohibition of discharging a firearm inside of a business, but I did find policy stating that officers were permitted to kill dangerous or injured animals.

I contacted counsel who in turn contacted the city attorney about the matter, and due to a city council meeting being held on that evening inquiry was made by my counsel as to whether this matter was going to be discussed at the meeting that evening. The city attorney stated to my counsel that he was told the matter was not going to be heard that evening.

I called the city manager and asked her if the matter was going to be heard that evening, and she told me no it wasn’t. I then asked her to notify the Mayor because I wanted a work session scheduled with the Mayor, Alderman, and Chief of Police so we could discuss this incident. She stated she would make the notification.

Later that evening while I was at home I received a phone call from the Chief stating the council had voted to terminate me for insubordination.

The issue that I was told was not going to be heard that night was heard after all, and I was not notified of it so that I could be present to argue my case.

Am I guilty of insubordination, yes I am because I have worked there for 5 years, have put down several animals as well as other officers, and at no time was I ever told a report was required, a handgun discharge report was required, or notification of a supervisor was required when a firearm was discharged.

Yes it exists in the policy manual, but that policy was never enforced until this incident, and if you enforce policy, then policy is to be followed every day, not just during a conflict.

I have knowledge of other incidents that have occurred inside the department that was in direct violation of department policy, should have resulted in disciplinary action or termination but these incidents were not addressed.

That is the reason I have taken the action I have, and I am almost certain not on handgun discharge report exists inside the department until after this incident, and my termination.

It is no secret that I am seeking the Office of Sheriff in Johnson County in the 2014 election, and I know that some people are not happy about that decision.

I can’t help but to believe there are political factors playing into this situation, especially after news media are notified two weeks after this incident occurred, and after I rebutted a story published on the front page of our local newspaper concerning the incident with totally inaccurate information.

The same inaccurate information that was allowed to be aired on your station, that in turn went nation wide.

The sad thing is when your station approached my Chief that day concerning this matter, I had been in his office even after being terminated, and told him what had occurred at the Dollar Store. Instead of giving a statement then he told me he did not tell the news media anything, but they did get a copy of my personnel file. To which I responded to him I was not concerned about the personnel file because there was nothing in it.

Your news story aired that evening, and I watched a 20 year career destroyed in about 5 minutes. And my Chief would not answer the phone after the story aired.

He actually knew what happened, but wouldn’t make a statement to your station.

So this is the actual events that occurred, and why I chose to stand up for myself, and that is why I have retained the Southern States P.B.A. to represent me and the city government has been notified, as well as a freedom of information request was filed last Tuesday evening in writing to the entire city council and the Chief of Police for release of copies of any and all handgun discharge reports on file per department policy, and copies of any and all reports filed by officers in reference to animal calls.

Today is the seventh day of the freedom of information request, and I have got no response from the city, and no response has been directed to my attorney either.

In reference to your eye witness account of the Dollar Store incident. I remember her she was a white female with dark hair approx 5ft to 5ft 3 carrying a child, and pushing an empty buggy. As I was going after the squirrel I had my firearm at my side. Not in a drawn position. And the reason the firearm was at my side was due to the fact I had removed my magazine containing my duty ammo, and chambered one low grain bullet and I did not replace the magazine into the firearm. When a Glock handgun is fired with one round only, and no magazine in the pistol it results in a empty magazine action that automatically locks the slide back after the last round is fired.

As i approached the eye witness I activated the slide release on the firearm so I could holster it. But at that time the firearm was completely empty. As for any statements I was alleged to have made the only thing I recall is yelling at the store manager to throw the towel on the animal and remove it from the store. Based upon the eye witness’s location inside the store which was near the entrance, and the fact that she was pushing an empty shopping cart, I could only assume she had just entered the building, and was totally unaware of what was going on inside the building.

But I can assure you 100% I did not have my firearm drawn in a defensive firing position at her. It was an empty Glock with a slide locked back in my right hand down to my side, and once I released the slide lock I was able to holster my firearm.

Jody Putnam


Life, especially in a small town, can be stranger than fiction and equally as entertaining.

And if Mr. Putnam is elected county sheriff next year, it will be even more so.


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Celebrity Names

One of the cardinal rules of being a celebrity is that you have to choose a proper stage name. Lots of times, for a variety of reasons, birth names won’t do. 

For example, fashion designer Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifschitz; not an ideal name to build one’s career on. Also, singer Katy Perry’s real name is Katy Hudson; Kate Hudson the actress got there first. 

Today’s celebrities seem more willing to go with their real names than did those of earlier generations. “Ashley Tisdale” and “Zac Efron” are genuine birth names. So, of course, is “Justin Bieber.” 

Still, name-tweaking is a common and sometimes necessary strategy. Just for fun, here is a list of assorted celebrities and their real names.


Jennifer Aniston — Jennifer Anastassakis

Pat Benatar — Patricia Andrzejewski

Jon Bon Jovi — John Bongiovi

Bono — Paul Hewson

Josh Brolin — Joshua Bruderlin

Charles Bronson — Charles Bunchinsky

George Burns — Nathan Brinbaum

Louis C.K. — Louis Szekely

Michael Caine — Maurice Micklewhite

Ray Charles — Ray Charles Robinson

Cher — Cherilyn Sarkisian

Eric Clapton — Eric Clapp

Lee J. Cobb — Lee Jacob

Elvis Costello — Declan McManus

Tom Cruise — Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

Jimmy Dean — Seth Ward

Lana Del Rey — Elizabeth Grant

John Denver — Henry Deutschendorf

Dido — Florian Armstrong

Portia De Rossi — Amanda Rogers

Kirk Douglas — Issur Demsky

Judy Garland — Frances Gumm

Whoopie Goldberg — Caryn Johnson

Cary Grant — Archibald Leach

Faith Hill — Audrey Perry

Hulk Hogan — Terry Bollette

William Holden — William F. Beedle, Jr.

Toby Keith — Toby Keith Covel

Ben Kingsley — Krishna Bhanji

Lady Gaga — Stefani Germanotta

Blake Lively — Blake Brown

Ricky Martin — Enrique Morales

Bruno Mars — Peter Hernandez

Freddy Mercury — Farouk Bulsara

Helen Mirren — Ilyena Mironoff

Demi Moore — Demetria Guynes

Joaquin Phoenix — Juaquin Bottom

Pink — Alecia Moore

Iggy Pop — James Osterberg

Wolfgang Puck — Wolfgang Topfschnig

Joey Ramone — Jeffrey Hyman

Della Reese — Delloreese Early

Rihanna — Robyn Fenty

Meg Ryan — Margaret Hyra

Jane Seymour — Joyce Frankenberg

Gene Simmons — Chaim Witz

Charlie Sheen — Carlos Estevez

Martin Sheen — Ramon Estevez

Tina Turner — Annie Mae Bulloch

Shania Twain — Eileen Edwards

Steven Tyler — Steven Tallarico

John Wayne — Marion Morrison

Olivia Wilde — Olivia Cockburn

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson

Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson

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Even among our illustrious Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson was a star.

A gentleman farmer by occupation, Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, spoke five languages fluently, was an accomplished architect, immersed himself in science and philosophy, invented a host of practical devices (e.g., the swivel chair), and founded a university.

Clearly, the guy was a multifaceted genius, driven by a turbocharged intellect and boundless curiosity.

At the same time, Jefferson was subject to the kinds of idiosyncrasies and occasional dopey ideas that genius is heir to.

Consider the following.

Soon after the American Revolution, the United States was ready to cut loose and expand beyond the borders of the original 13 states. Under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, we annexed a big chunk of what we know today as the Midwest — the area south of the Great Lakes, east of the Mississippi River, and west of the Ohio River.

Over time, that territory was divided into the new states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. But it wasn’t done in keeping with Jefferson’s elaborate plan for the region.

As early as 1784, Jefferson wanted to divide the territory into 10 states of roughly equal size. He even had names ready for the new states.

Jefferson’s plan was shelved. A 19th Century biographer of Jefferson explained.

“The names suggested for these ten States are a peculiar mixture of Latin and Indian, and while a semblance of some of the names still remains in two cases, in all others it is so absolutely forgotten that the very fact has ceased to be known by many close students of American history.

“Yet, besides this humane and noble piece of statesmanship (the proposed prohibition of slavery in the territory) we have a glimpse of that absurd element in Jefferson’s mind which his admirers sought to excuse by calling him a philosopher.”

Setting aside for a moment the noble proposal to prohibit slavery in the new states, what were the peculiar, absurd and forgotten names that Jefferson wanted to give to the new states?

Under Jefferson’s plan, much of present-day Minnesota, the upper peninsula of Michigan, and a piece of northern Wisconsin would have become the State of Sylvania. Well, ‘Sylvania’ isn’t so bad.

Most of Wisconsin, but none of what is now Michigan, would have been called Michigania. Hmmm. That one is a little strange.

Michigan’s lower peninsula would be the State of Chersonesus. Yikes! Almost unpronounceable! FYI, “Chersonesus” is Greek for “peninsula.”

The northern part of what is now Illinois would be Assenisipia. Yikes again. “Assenisipi” is the Indian name of the Rock River, a tributary of the Mississippi that flows through Rockton, Rockford, Rock Falls, and Rock Island, Illinois.

East of that, Jefferson proposed the State of Metropotamia. Sigh.

Lined up across the southern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio would be llinoia, Saratoga, and Washington. Illinoia — rhymes with paranoia.

Below those states, in what is now Kentucky, would be Polypotamia and Pelisipia. Are those gastric disorders?

At the time, the land south of the Northwest Territory (today’s Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama) was claimed by both Spain and the United States. Several states also made claims of their own, further complicating matters.

Jefferson, confident the U.S. would prevail, had things figured out in advance.

Located in western and eastern Tennessee, respectively, would be the states of Equitasia (!!) and Jefferson. Yes, a state named Jefferson was in the mix. Not cool, Thomas.

Below them would be a long, skinny Alabama, a short, squat Mississippi, and the State of Adams shoehorned in below.


Jefferson’s grand scheme for the region was never enacted, and he sulked about the defeat of his plan for the rest of his life.

In fairness, the greater loss to Jefferson was his failure to block slavery from spreading to the new states. But the rejection of his carefully and lovingly selected names — that had to sting, too.

In 1784, Congress passed Jefferson’s proposal, but only after the anti-slavery clause was struck from the bill — by a margin of one vote. Furthermore, the ordinance was promptly shelved and never enacted.

In 1786, referring to the removal of the slavery clause, Jefferson wrote, “The voice of a single individual would have prevented this abominable crime; heaven will not always be silent; the friends to the rights of human nature will in the end prevail.”

Thomas Jefferson had his failings, but on the balance sheet of a lifetime, it’s fair to say that the man comes out looking pretty good.

As for Pelisipia, Equitasia, and Chersonesus — well, we’re all entitled to a dopey idea now and then.

Jefferson's states


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Visual Wordplay Redux

A while back, I posted a story entitled Visual Wordplay, about the practice of cleverly enhancing the visual attributes of words.

Included in that post were some wonderful examples from Robert Carola, who, back in the day, wrote the “Word Play” column in Playboy Magazine.

This week, I heard from a reader who ran across more of Carola’s “Word Play” words online and asked if I wanted to see them.

Is the Pope a Catholic? Here’s the new batch of words the reader sent me.







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