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Talking Georgian

Last month, I posted a story about some of my favorite Southern expressions, many of which I heard growing up. These were genuine folksy sayings used by my friends and relatives, not the usual clichés aimed at ridiculing Southern accents.

Writing that story brought to mind a related matter: the often unique ways local people pronounce local place names.

Most place names are pronounced the same way everywhere. I live in the city of Jefferson, county of Jackson, state of Georgia. People across the country pronounce those three names pretty much the same.

But every state and region has a short list of towns, counties, streets, rivers, etc. that the natives pronounce in odd, often counter-intuitive ways. You have to wonder if they do it for sport, to trip up outsiders.

Being a Georgia boy, I’m most familiar with how place names are pronounced here at home. Here is a list of some good ones.

—————

Adel — AY-dell
Albany — ALL-benny
Armuchee — Are-MURR-chee
Atlanta — At-LANN-uh
Berlin — BURR-lun
Boliver — BOWL-uh-ver
Bremen — BREE-mun
Buena Vista — Byoo-na VIS-ta
Cairo — KAY-ro

Cairo

Cement — SEE-mint
Chamblee — SHAM-blee
Chatham — CHAT-um
Choestoe — Choy-stoy
Cordele — Cor-DEEL
Dacula — Da-CUE-luh
DeKalb — Duh-CAB
Demere — DEM-er-ee
Dubois — DEW-boys
Duluth — DEW-looth

Duluth

Forsyth — FOUR-syth
Gardi — GUARD-eye
Gough — Guff
Hahira — Hey-HI-ruh
Hoschton — HUSH-ton (rhymes with push)
Houston — HOUSE-ton
Inaha — EYE-nuh-hah

Inaha

LaFayette — La-FAY-it
Lenox — LEAN-ox
Machen — MATCH-en
Manor — MAY-ner or MAY-nuh
Martinez — Martin-EZ
McDonough — Mc-DONE-uh
Milan — MY-lun
Mobley — MOW-blee
Monroe — MUN-row
Monticello — Monta-SELL-uh
Moran — MORE-un
Mussella — Muze-ELL-uh
Ochlockonee — Oak-LOT-‘ny
Ocoee — Oh-COY
Palmetto — Pal-MET-uh

Palmetto

Pembroke — PEM-brook
Philema — F’LIM-me
Poulan — POE-lun
Redan — REE-dan
Schlatterville — SLAUGHTER-vul
Schley — Sly
Senoia — Suh-NO-ee
Seville — SEE-vul

Seville

Siloam — SIGH-lome
Soque — SO-kwee
Statham — STATE-um
Suches — SUCH-iss
Suwanee — SWAN-ee
Taliaferro — TAHL-i-ver (rhymes with Oliver)
Tennille — TEN-ul

Tennille

Tugalo — TWO-ga-low
Tyrone — TIE-rone
Upatoi — EWE-pa-toy
Villa Rica — Villa-RICK-uh
Vienna — Vie-E-nuh
Warthen — WUR-then
Whitemarsh — WHIT-marsh
Winder — WINE-der
Withlacoochee — Willa-COO-chee

—————

You may have noticed that in the majority of the above, the emphasis is on the first syllable. This is a common trait in Southern speech. It has to do with expending the effort up front, so you can relax and coast to the finish of the word. Thus, North Georgia natives say “DEW-looth” and not “Du-LOOTH.”

Undoubtedly, Georgia has plenty of other place names that belong on the list. I’ll keep an ear to the ground for more.

 

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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.

Word-Play-1

Word-Play-2

Word-Play-3

Word-Play-4

Word-Play-5

Word-Play-6

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In December 2005, after Death Valley National Park had cooled off for the year, I drove to California and spent a fascinating four days exploring the place. Memories of that trip still pop into my head from time to time. Apparently, I was impressed.

You probably know the basics about Death Valley, even if you haven’t been there: it’s the hottest, driest, lowest point in North America.

In July 1913, an all-time world record high of 134°F was recorded on the valley floor. In July of the year I was there, the temperature reached 129°F. Best to avoid Julys.

Rainfall-wise, the valley has averaged about two inches per year over the last 30 years. That’s an improvement. The historic yearly average is 1.6 inches.

Altitude-wise, the lowest point in the valley is the lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level.

Death Valley got the way it is because of its unique geography; the valley is a long, narrow basin walled in by mountains. On the west side, the Panamint Range blocks storms moving in from the Pacific Ocean. The western slopes get the rainfall, and almost none reaches the valley.

DV-1

Deprived of moisture, the desert air becomes steadily hotter and drier. The heated air rises, but is trapped by the mountains on both sides. It cools a bit, falls again, and compresses the air below it, heating the air further. You learned that in high school physics, right?

If you look at the daily high and low temperatures in Death Valley over the course of a year, you get an average high of 90°F and an average low of 62°F.

So, Death Valley is a hot, dry, low-lying desert. Those fundamentals, I knew. But when I finally got there, I wasn’t prepared for the diversity.

For one thing, I didn’t expect to find heavily-forested mountains that are snow-capped in winter. Telescope Peak, the tallest mountain in the Panamints, rises 11,049 feet above sea level. Badwater Basin is a mere 15 miles away.

The Park has plenty of other surprises…

A giant salt flat on the floor of the valley covers 200 square miles. The salt has accumulated over thousands of years, washed down out of the mountains by periodic floods. Because the valley is an enclosed basin, the water is trapped in temporary lakes. When they evaporate in the arid climate, another layer of salt is added to the crust.

DV-2

In the surrounding mountains, countless canyons and dry washes deliver a steady supply of sand to the valley floor. Most is dispersed by the constant wind. But in a few places, sand dunes accumulate. Death Valley has five sets of dunes, the largest standing over 700 feet tall. The sprawling dune field at Mesquite Flat is conveniently located next to the Park’s main road.

DV-3

Salt isn’t the only mineral buried in the valley floor. In 1881, large-scale borax mining began in Death Valley. The operation at Furnace Creek became famous for using teams of 20 mules to haul double wagons of borax 200 miles over the mountains to the nearest railroad. The site of the old Harmony Borax Works, closed since 1889, is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

DV-4

One of the most incongruous sights in Death Valley is “Scotty’s Castle,” a Spanish-style mansion built in the 1920s by Chicago millionaire Albert Johnson as a vacation getaway. When construction started, Johnson’s friend Walter Scott, a free-spirited prospector of questionable repute known as “Death Valley Scotty,” told the locals that he was building the mansion himself, using proceeds from a secret gold mine. Amused, Johnson let Scott have his fun, and the name “Scotty’s Castle” stuck. The mansion was turned into a hotel for a while, and now the Park owns it.

DV-5

Another odd sight: high in the Panamint Range are 10 masonry charcoal kilns, beehive-shaped and 25 feet tall. The kilns were built in 1877 by rich mining expert George Hearst (daddy of rich publisher William Randolph Hearst). The charcoal was used to fuel the smelters at Hearst’s nearby lead and silver mines. When the mines played out, the kilns were abandoned. You can go inside them, but mind the soot.

DV-6

Death Valley is home to eight ghost towns, most founded by miners or outlaws between the 1870s and the 1920s. The largest of the towns is (was) Rhyolite, located just outside the Park on BLM land. Rhyolite lasted from 1905 until 1916. In its heyday, the town had over 5,000 residents, two churches, and 50 saloons.

DV-7

The “Bottle House” in Rhyolite was constructed using 30,000 empty beer bottles. Except for the bottles, it’s just an ordinary building. The Bottle House was badly vandalized after Rhyolite was abandoned, but in 1925, Paramount Pictures restored the building as an investment; by then, the place was being used as a movie set.

Rhyolite Bottle House

There’s plenty more to see in Death Valley. Ubehebe Crater (pronounced YOO-bee-HEE-bee) is a volcanic crater, age uncertain, that is 600 feet deep and half a mile across. Ubehebe (a marvelous word that should be spoken with feeling) is a Shoshone word that means “big basket in the rock.”

Elsewhere, tucked away in a remote canyon, is a massive natural bridge. You are not surprised to find such a thing in this rocky, bone-dry country.

However, in another remote canyon is beautiful Darwin Falls, hidden in a fern-covered glen. Totally unexpected.

Then there is “The Racetrack,” where rocks mysteriously slide across a dry lake bed, leaving tell-tale tracks behind them. No one has seen it happen, but the speculation is that after a rain, the surface becomes slippery, and the wind is able to push the rocks slowly along.

And there is “Devil’s Hole,“ a hot water spring inside a limestone cavern, fed by a vast aquifer. The pool is known to be an indicator of seismic activity around the world. Earthquakes as far away as Japan have caused the water in Devil’s Hole to slosh like water in a bathtub.

All of the above is tourist stuff. Anyone can see it, photograph it, write about it, and plenty of people do.

But my trip to Death Valley that year had an added benefit that was private and personal and intimate.

Well, maybe someone else experienced it, but not from my vantage point. Let me explain.

The morning I left Death Valley to start the drive home, I was on the road before dawn. I left early because the motel dining room at Stovepipe Wells didn’t open for another two hours. Hungry and irritated, I drove off in hopes of finding breakfast somewhere else.

What I found was a spectacular sunrise.

I remember it vividly. I had just left the Park and was driving south through Panamint Valley, heading for the little town of Ridgecrest and civilization once again.

For miles, the road was arrow-straight. Beyond my headlights, everything was black. I knew from the absence of headlights and taillights that it was just me and the stars and the desert.

Then slowly, the predawn light began to reveal the landscape. I could make out a few mountain shapes in the distance. I could see faintly the outlines of ocotillo and saguaro cactuses. I became aware of a barely perceptible glow on the horizon, revealing where the sun would rise.

Soon, I came to a place where the highway climbed a small hill. On the right, at the top of the rise, was a large, level pullout. I coasted in and turned off the engine.

For the next 20 minutes, I sat on the hood of my car, waiting for the sunrise, enjoying the solitude, contemplating what a fortunate fellow I am.

When the sunrise came, it was glorious.

The photos I took that morning are among my all-time favorites. A 30” X 40” enlargement of this one has been on my living room wall ever since.

DV-9

 

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Da spring has sprung,
Da grass has riz.
I wonder where da boidies is?

I hoid da boids is on da wing,
But dat, you know, is just absoid,
Because da wings is on da boid.

— “Spring in the Bronx” by “Anonymous”

——————

I appreciate the arrival of spring more every year.

Yes, I know — the pollen is awful, and the dandelions are taking over, and those fuzzy things are falling from the oak trees. And suddenly, da grass needs mowing twice a week.

But the days are getting warmer, and I finally get to wear shorts again, and for the last month, turning on either heat or air conditioning has been a rarity.

All the things that looked dead a month ago are popping out green. That row of dinky azaleas I planted last year has popped out in color and looks amazing.

The liriope is putting out bright green shoots. The mums in the planters on my patio survived the winter and are growing again. My fruit trees made it, too.

And the dogwoods. Where I live, dogwoods dominate, and they are in glorious bloom right now.

Dogwoods

In every patch of woods, in practically every yard on every block, the dogwood blossoms stand out dramatically — bold patches of white, dotted with occasional pink.

A few days ago, I drove over to Athens to check out a trail assigned to me at Sandy Creek Nature Center. I am a bona fide trail volunteer there. I am obliged to submit regular reports in re the trail’s condition; e.g., Nothing to report or Hey, a tree is down, get out the chainsaw.

The entire time I was on the trail and under the canopy of trees — the entire time — I could smell the sweet, delicate, delightful perfume of springtime.

The dogwood blossoms, the riot of new growth, that wonderful aroma — it was enchanting.

As for da boids, one of dem just made its nest inside my garage — for the third year in a row.

I can understand why da boids are attracted to the garage. The garage is open a good part of the day. It’s covered and protected, and, if the mama boid selects the right spot, such as on a high shelf or inside a box, secluded.

True, I have to close the garage door at times. But if a boid wants to spend the night trapped inside, well, that’s for da boid to decide.

This year, however, they went too far.

Nest

Those are my yard shoes. I use them for mowing, weeding, trimming, transplanting, and whatnot.

I keep them in the garage on a shelf (I can’t leave them on the floor because the neighborhood dogs steal them), and I guess they were irresistible to the mother boid.

Apparently, the nest in the left shoe was a trial run. Only the nest in the right shoe had been completed and was in use.

Although it pained me to do it, I removed the nest from my shoe and placed it (the nest, not the shoe) in a bush just outside the garage. To avoid contaminating the nest with human smell, I wore gloves.

I’d like to think the mama boid found her nest, but I doubt it.

I’m sorry, mama, but I need my yard shoes. Better luck next spring.

Boidy

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One good thing about music: when it hits you, you feel no pain.

— Bob Marley

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The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first.

— Eckhart Tolle

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Do not forget small kindnesses; do not remember small faults.

— Chinese Proverb

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Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

— Napoleon Bonaparte

 

Marley

Marley

Bonaparte

Bonaparte

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Tune o’ the Day

A little background before I get to the music.

Last Thanksgiving morning, I did my first-ever 5k. I say “did” because I’m not a runner. I walked the route.

The event was the 4th annual “Turkey Can Run,” which is held by my son Dustin’s church to raise money for the food bank.

It was quite well-attended — almost 400 entrants. The entry fee was a donation of 15 cans; the volunteers at the drop-off station that morning were beaming happily.

When the race got underway, I set out at my usual leisurely pace, poking along, observing the people and the sights, taking in the new experience.

Within minutes, I found myself dead last.

The runners were long gone, nowhere in sight. And, to my surprise, even the walkers were chugging along as fast as they were able. It was a very unexpected turn of events.

Somewhere around the 2k point, I decided it would be prudent to pick up the pace, the idea being not to cross the finish line in last place.

On the next uphill, I passed several wheezing fat ladies, which, rightly or wrongly, made me feel better. It also demonstrated that I am, in fact, capable of walking fast when I have to. Who knew?

Shortly thereafter, I arrived at a water station run by my daughter-in-law Leslie and my granddaughters Maddie and Sarah. I stopped to chat for a minute or so.

When I set out again, I was still ahead of the wheezing fat ladies, but the main pack of walkers was way, way off in the distance. It was disheartening to see them disappear around the bend, so far ahead.

Until that moment, I had never tried serious, sustained power-walking. But something made me go for it. I leaned forward, got into a rhythm, and kept it up for the entire last half of the route.

I mention this because of the way I paced myself during the power-walking.

When I go hiking, I often “play” music in my head. I have a good ear for music, so, to pass the time on the trail, I will relax and “listen” to songs that mentally bubble up. It’s pleasant and easy and doesn’t require earphones.

The song I chose to play in my head during the last half of the 5k was “Bulletproof” by La Roux. I picked it because it’s catchy, and the tempo is about as fast as my legs can move.

“Bulletproof” was especially helpful on the long, final uphill grade just before the finish line, where I passed enough people to go home satisfied.

I also went home with a medal: third place in my age group.

Or, to put it another way, last place in my age group.

La Roux

Bulletproof

By La Roux, 2009
Written by Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid

Been there, done that, messed around.
I’m having fun, don’t put me down.
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet.

I won’t let you in again.
The messages I tried to send.
My information’s just not going in.

Burning bridges shore to shore,
I break away from something more.
I’m not turned on to love until it’s cheap.

Been there, done that, messed around.
I’m having fun, don’t put me down.
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet.

This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.

I won’t let you turn around
And tell me now I’m much too proud
To walk away from something when it’s dead.

Do, do, do your dirty words.
Come out to play when you are hurt.
There’s certain things that should be left unsaid.

Tick, tick, tick, tick on the watch,
And life’s too short for me to stop.
Oh baby, your time is running out.

I won’t let you turn around
And tell me now I’m much too proud.
All you do is fill me up with doubt.

This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.

This time I’ll be bulletproof.
This time I’ll be bulletproof.

This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.
This time, baby, I’ll be bulletproof.

Check out Bulletproof on YouTube.

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The pun, according to wordsmith Samuel Johnson, is “the lowest form of humour.” Johnson asserted that puns had “some malignant power” over Shakespeare’s mind.

Johnson probably wouldn’t react well to this pun from Douglas Adams: “You can tune a guitar, but you can’t tuna fish. Unless of course, you play bass.”

Or this groaner from Groucho Marx: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

If puns are, indeed, a low form of art, the following list should make Dr. Johnson roll over in his grave.

————

A girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.

A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

Energizer bunny arrested, charged with battery.

How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it.

That earthquake in Washington obviously was the government’s fault.

You feel stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.

In democracy, it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism, it’s your count that votes.

The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Fintastic

A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

Be kind to your dentist. He has fillings, too.

Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft, and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

When chemists die, they barium.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.

How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.

I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.

I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

Have you ever heard of an honest cheetah?

The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.

Gillian

She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

They told me I had type-A blood, but it was a type-O.

PMS jokes aren’t funny, period.

If you hear it from the horse’s mouth, you’re listening to a neigh sayer.

A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.

No matter how much you push the envelope, it will remain stationery.

Don’t justify sin, just defy sin.

Why were the Indians here first? Because they had reservations.

We’re going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there’s no pop quiz.

I didn’t like my beard at first, but it grew on me.

Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn’t control her pupils?

Alpaca

When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.

Broken pencils are pointless.

I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I used to be a banker, but I lost interest.

I dropped out of communism class because of lousy Marx.

All the toilets in New York’s police stations have been stolen. The police have nothing to go on.

A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.

Venison for dinner again? Oh, deer!

Corduroy pillows are making headlines.

Manatee

Sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center: ‘Keep off the Grass.’

Two silkworms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

A plateau is a high form of flattery.

Camping is usually intense.

Poor fellow. He ran into a screen door and strained himself.

After Noah sent Ham into the desert, his descendants mustered and bred.

Immanuel doesn’t pun. He Kant.

A Freudian slip is when you say one thing, but mean your mother.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crêpes.

Velcro — what a rip-off!

Carrot

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Epiphanies, Part 1

An epiphany is a sudden flash of insight that sheds new light on a subject and leads you to change your perspective.

The phenomenon often is called a eureka moment. It’s when the light bulb over your head comes on.

Epiphanies happen after you have pondered a subject in depth, and you uncover a new piece of information, or make a new connection, that draws back the curtain and — aha! –triggers a startling new realization about that subject.

For the most part, epiphanies visit a prepared mind. They do not strike the average bonehead. The mind of the average bonehead is by nature ill-prepared.

History’s most famous epiphany probably was that of Isaac Newton.

The fanciful story is that Newton, seeing an apple fall from a tree, suddenly realized that apples fall without exception toward the center of the earth. From that insight, he concluded that matter attracts matter. He further deduced that the force pulling on the apple also keeps the moon in orbit.

Newton went on to describe the law of universal gravitation and the laws of motion. A prepared mind, indeed.

The term eureka moment got its name from the tale of the Greek scientist Archimedes, who had been tasked by his king to solve a problem.

The king had commissioned a golden crown as an offering to the gods. But a rumor arose that the goldsmith had adulterated the crown with silver and kept some of the gold for himself.

Archimedes was assigned to determine whether the crown was pure gold — without damaging it, as it was a holy artifact.

Archimedes was stumped. Then he made a visit to the public baths.

There, he observed that water was displaced when he climbed into the tub, and the volume displaced was equal to his own volume. Suddenly, he realized he could use that principle to determine the crown’s purity.

When the epiphany struck, Archimedes reportedly leaped from the bath and ran home naked, shouting “Eureka (I found it)!”

Most likely, the running naked part is a myth, but the insight was genuine.

How did Archimedes solve the problem? He placed a measure of pure gold equal to the weight of the crown into a bowl of water and filled it to the brim. Then he removed the gold and replaced it with the crown in question. The bowl overflowed.

It did so because silver is lighter than gold and a greater volume of silver is required to achieve the same weight. The goldsmith was busted. Perhaps literally.

The same bolt of understanding happened to Albert Einstein at age five, when he was given a magnetic compass. He puzzled over the device, trying without success to get the compass needle to point where he wanted it to point.

Young Albert concluded that an unseen force, something he didn’t yet understand, was guiding the needle. His insight at the tender age of five — that there is more to the world than meets the eye — became his life’s work.

Me, I’m no egghead, and I’ve never been struck by a world-class epiphany.

But I’m no bonehead, either, and I’ve experienced a few thunderbolts — even though they were modest, inconsequential, and enlightening only to me.

I will elaborate in my next post.

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Stinkers

Years ago, I had a friend who was Oscar-obsessed. When the Academy Awards came on TV, he hosted an elaborate party and handed out paper ballots. He made his infamous pig-in-a-blanket appetizers. He flitted around the room, giddy with anticipation.

I’m a film fan, too, but in a far less obsessive way. My friend would be crushed to know that I purposely avoid Academy Awards broadcasts.

Movies are a hugely complex art form and an amazing entertainment experience. A good film is a marvelous thing. In fact, depending on how the wind blows and the planets align, even an awful potboiler can be enjoyable.

Recently, I ran across this tidbit of movie trivia: in 1988, Tom Cruise starred in Rain Man, the Oscar-winning Best Picture, and also in Cocktail, the Razzie-winning Worst Picture. An amazing feat.

For the record, the Razzies are the Golden Raspberry Awards, presented annually in recognition of the worst in film.

The Razzies were dreamed up in 1980 by Hollywood publicist John Wilson. The award consists of a golfball-size representation of a raspberry sitting on a Super 8MM film reel, spray-painted gold.

An Oscar statuette costs about $500 to make; Each Razzie is said to cost $4.97.

When I read about Mr. Cruise’s notable achievement in 1988, I got curious about other Razzie winners over the years. So I did the research.

Here is the list of the winners in the Worst Picture category, including the star(s) to jog your memory. Note that 1986 and 1990 resulted in a tie.

1980 — Can’t Stop the Music (The Village People, Bruce Jenner)
1981 — Mommie Dearest (Faye Dunaway)
1982 — Inchon (Lawrence Olivier)
1983 — The Lonely Lady (Pia Zadora)
1984 — Bolero (Bo Derek)
1985 — Rambo: First Blood Part II (Sylvester Stallone)
1986 — Howard the Duck (Tim Robbins)
1986 — Under the Cherry Moon (Prince)
1987 — Leonard Part 6 (Bill Cosby)
1988 — Cocktail (Tom Cruise)
1989 — Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (William Shatner et al)
1990 — The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (Andrew Dice Clay)
1990 — Ghosts Can’t Do It (Bo Derek)
1991 — Hudson Hawk (Bruce Willis)
1992 — Shining Through (Michael Douglas)
1993 — Indecent Proposal (Robert Redford, Demi Moore)
1994 — Color of Night (Bruce Willis)
1995 — Showgirls (Elizabeth Berkley)
1996 — Striptease (Demi Moore)
1997 — The Postman (Kevin Costner)
1998 — Burn Hollywood Burn (Ryan O’Neal)
1999 — Wild Wild West (Will Smith, Kevin Kline)
2000 — Battlefield Earth (John Travolta)
2001 — Freddy Got Fingered (Tom Green)
2002 — Swept Away (Madonna)
2003 — Gigli (Ben Affleck)
2004 — Catwoman (Halle Berry)
2005 — Dirty Love (Jenny McCarthy)
2006 — Basic Instinct 2 (Sharon Stone)
2007 — I Know Who Killed Me (Lindsay Lohan)
2008 — The Love Guru (Mike Myers)
2009 — Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Shia LaBeouf)
2010 — The Last Airbender (Noah Ringer)
2011 — Jack and Jill (Adam Sandler)

A truly spectacular group of stinkers. I’ve seen only four of them, and I swear I was ignorant of their true nature at the time. Honest.

 

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On the Road #2

Second in a series of stories from my road trip last month to the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Desert Southwest.

—————

Special of the Day

Late one day, in the middle of nowhere on I-90 in South Dakota, I rolled into the dusty little town of Murdo.

Murdo takes full advantage of being where it is. The town is a traveler’s oasis, albeit an old and dilapidated one. It abounds with truck stops, ancient gas stations, over-the-hill motels, and forgettable restaurants.

The heat that afternoon was a withering 103. I checked into a small Best Western on the edge of town, having driven past and rejected everything else.

As the front desk lady checked me in, I looked out at 5th Street, the main drag, watching the big rigs and pickups go by, the view distorted by undulating waves of rising heat.

Murdo looked like a cowboy town from the 1960s. The scene should have been in black and white.

But, on the bright side, the motel turned out to have good air conditioning and a decent wi-fi connection. I was able to hunker down in relative peace and comfort.

But first, I had to find supper. I asked the desk lady for a recommendation.

“The Buffalo Restaurant,” she said. “Two blocks west on the right. Steaks, ribs, burgers. Full salad bar. The soup is good.”

The Buffalo Restaurant and Bar, as I should have expected, was just another roadside café, no doubt built in the 1960s. The walls were decorated with red bandanas and John Wayne art.

I ordered the Special of the Day, hamburger steak with grilled onions. The price was $13.99 — highway robbery, in spite of the all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar.

The soup was okay. The salad bar was bland and mayonnaisy. I didn’t have seconds, but watched with dismay as a couple in a nearby booth went back three or four times.

Later, on my way out the front door, I was greeted by a hand-lettered sign on the screen door that read:

IF WIND IS BLOWING, HANG ONTO DOOR

“Walking the Dinosaur,” a roadside oddity along I-90 near Murdo.

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