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Archive for the ‘Regular Features’ Category

The Questions…

1. Four of the five Great Lakes share borders with the U.S. and Canada. The fifth is located entirely within the United States. Name it.

2. What is Morton’s toe?

3. Each year in Scotland, a music festival is held on the banks of Loch Ness, the purported home of the “Loch Ness Monster.” What is the name of the festival?

4. In 1908, SOS was adopted as the universal distress signal sent in Morse code by wireless operators. What signal did it replace?

5. If you use the term peacocks to refer to a group of the birds that includes both sexes, you are in error. The male is a peacock, and the female is a peahen. (Juveniles are peachicks.) What is the proper collective term for a group that includes males and females?

The Answers…

1. Lake Michigan.

2. Morton’s toe is a condition in which the second toe is longer than the big toe. It occurs on 10-20 percent of feet. In the 1920s, Dr. Dudley J. Morton discovered its cause: a slightly short metatarsal in the big toe.

3. Rock Ness.

4. Originally, wireless operators transmitted CQD as a distress signal. CQ meant a call to all stations, and the D was for distress. The world switched to SOS because CQ and CQD are too similar and could be confused. When the Titanic was sinking in 1912, its radio officer sent out multiple calls, alternating CQD and SOS.

5. The correct term is peafowl. FYI, a group of peafowl is called a pride or an ostentation.

Great Lakes

Peafowl

 

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DEVONSHIRE, ENGLAND — The Aetherius Society, an organization of ding-a-lings who believe Jesus was an extraterrestrial from Venus, is planning a pilgrimage to the site where the group’s late founder claimed he saw Jesus arrive on Earth by spaceship in 1958.

The pilgrimage is set for July at Holdstone Down, a mountain where former taxi driver George King says he watched the spaceship land. King said Jesus was one of several Cosmic Masters, including Buddha and Confucius, who came to Earth to help mankind.

The Aetherius Society proclaims that its “philosophy and teachings come largely from highly advanced intelligences from the higher planes of Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.”

King G

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — City crews have removed more than 3,600 tons of trash from a five-block stretch of clogged storm drains along St. Charles Avenue. The haul included 46 tons of carnival beads, a Mardi Gras staple.

At the news conference, a spokesman said the city is considering a plan to install temporary “gutter buddies” during Mardi Gras to stop the beads from washing into the storm drains.

The removal was part of a project that began in 2017 after an August storm dumped six inches of rain on the city, flooding streets and underpasses and angering the citizenry. Officials said the four-month project cleared 15,000 of the city’s storm drains, leaving 43,000 to go.

Mardi Gras

PETERHEAD, SCOTLAND — In February, six police cars and an armed response team went into action after a local man reported finding a tiger crouched inside his cow shed.

I got a hell of a scare,” farmer Bruce Grubb told police as they took defensive positions around the building. During the standoff, officers contacted a nearby wildlife park and were told that no tigers were missing.

After 45 minutes, an officer drove his vehicle close enough to the shed to see inside. He found that the tiger was in fact a large stuffed animal.

The relieved responders emphasized that Grubb was sincere, not a prankster, but how the toy tiger got in the shed is unclear.

Grubb gave the stuffed tiger to the officers to keep as a mascot.

Toy tiger

 

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Tune o’ the Day

In the 50 years from 1940 to 1990, the five most prolific songwriters in the recording business were Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, and Buck Ram. Buck Ram? Probably the best songwriter you’ve never heard of.

At various times, he wrote, produced, and arranged hit songs for Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, Ike and Tina Turner, The Drifters, The Coasters, and The Platters.

Ram wrote “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “I’m Sorry,” and “Sweet Sixteen.” For The Platters, he wrote “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “Heaven on Earth,” “Remember When,” “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch,” and “Twilight Time.”

According to Ram, he originally wrote “Twilight Time” as a poem while in college, and in 1944, the Three Suns added the music. The song was first recorded in 1945 by the Jimmy Dorsey band. In 1958, The Platters released the version most people remember.

Quite a story. And as far as I’m concerned, “Twilight Time” works fine either way — poem or song.

The Platters

Twilight Time

By The Platters, 1958
Written by Buck Ram, Artie Dunn, Al Nevins, and Morty Nevins

Heavenly shades of night are falling.
It’s twilight time.
Out of the mist your voice is calling.
It’s twilight time.
When purple-colored curtains mark the end of day,
I’ll hear you, my dear, at twilight time.

Deepening shadows gather splendor
As day is done.
Fingers of night will soon surrender
The setting sun.
I count the moments, darling, till you’re here with me.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

Here, in the afterglow of day,
We keep our rendezvous
Beneath the blue.
And, in the sweet and same old way,
I fall in love again, as I did then.

Deep in the dark, your kiss will thrill me
Like days of old.
Lighting the spark of love that fills me
With dreams untold.
Each day, I pray for evening, just to be with you.
Together, at last, at twilight time.
Together, at last, at twilight time.

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There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

— Isaac Asimov

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Do not mind anything that anyone tells you about anyone else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.

— Henry James

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Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.

— Margaret Walker

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What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left.

— Oscar Levant

Asimov I

Asimov

Levant O

Levant

 

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Pass

Want-fear

Obey

Eschew

 

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The Questions…

1. The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense, has 284 restrooms, twice as many as the occupant level requires. Why is that?

2. What American president financed his first run for public office with poker winnings?

3. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. How many?

4. In 1865, Robert Todd Lincoln, the oldest son of President Abraham Lincoln, fell from a platform in a busy New Jersey train station into the path of an oncoming train. Who stepped forward from the crowd and pulled young Lincoln to safety?

5. Rodney Dangerfield, the “I don’t get no respect” comedian, died in 2004 and is buried in Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles. What epitaph is inscribed on his tombstone?

The Answers…

1. When the Pentagon was under construction in 1943, Virginia insisted that it have racially segregated restrooms in accordance with state law. To avoid a hassle, the feds complied and built extra restrooms. But they never posted white and colored signs, thus leaving the facilities open to both black and white employees. Touché.

2. Richard Nixon. He was a skillful poker player while an ensign in the Navy, and he used $5,000 of his winnings to finance his successful run for Congress in 1946.

3. Nobody knows exactly, but at least three million.

4. The well-known actor Edwin Booth. A few months later, Booth’s brother John assassinated President Lincoln.

5. “…There goes the neighborhood.”

Pentagon

Dangerfield

 

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TAMPA, FLORIDA — A Tampa contractor claims in a lawsuit that he entered a condominium to conduct a fire safety inspection and was attacked by a bobcat.

The contractor claims that the bobcat was illegally-kept and unrestrained and inflicted permanent injuries. He asks for a jury trial and unspecified damages.

According to the condo owner, the contractor entered the apartment illegally because he wasn’t accompanied by a building employee as the bylaws require. Furthermore, she said she owns a small domestic longhair cat, not a bobcat.

A Florida wildlife official went to the condo and was introduced to Calli, a 10-pound housecat with a tortoise-shell-colored coat. The official’s report concluded that Calli is not a bobcat, inasmuch as bobcats are larger animals with light-colored, spotted coats, tufted ears, and bobbed tails.

The contractor’s attorney declined to comment.

Calli

MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA — Employees at a Hobby Lobby store called 911 last month to report that a white male was fleeing the store pushing a shopping cart loaded with stolen merchandise.

When police arrived, they found the shopping cart in the parking lot, lying on its side in deep snow. It contained about $4,000 worth of stolen items. Employees said the man tripped and fell, the cart overturned, and he fled on foot.

While inspecting the scene, officers found a wallet that contained photo identification and an address. A 22-year-old man who resided there was arrested on felony shoplifting charges.

Shoplifter

BOWMANSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA — As family members watched in horror, their small pet dog was snatched from the back yard and carried away by an eagle.

Zoey, an eight-pound Bichon Frise, was playing in the yard when the eagle swooped down, grabbed her in its talons, and soared away. The distraught owners began a fruitless search of the area.

About two hours later and four miles away, a woman found a dazed Zoey lying on the ground and took her home. After reading a Facebook post about the incident, the woman returned Zoey to her family.

Zoey has a slight limp, but apparently was otherwise unharmed, although the owners say she is hesitant to leave the house. No one knows how she escaped from the eagle.

Zoey

 

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