About Site


C-Notes, Part 4
Assorted thoughts in 100 words or less

Click here for next part
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


JANUARY 9, 2004:


When Christmas is over, we stop singing Christmas carols.  But why must secular carols be suspended as well?  Why must we take down our illuminated decorations?  December is relatively mild.  More so than in December, we need songs and lights and happy traditions to keep us going through the next four dark months:  the bitter cold of January, the snows of February, the storms of March, the lingering frosts of April.  We should sing about sleigh rides and snowmen and winter wonderlands when our frozen spirits most need a lift — for example, on my February 20 birthday.


OCTOBER 16, 2003:

Scientific American Frontiers says a placebo (fake medication) can cause the brain to release endogenous opioids (natural painkillers).  How?

I suspect that pain is an alarm system:  "Brain, we have a problem!"  Once we've done something (placebo) to fix the problem, the brain tries to shut off the alarm so we can get on with our lives.

Although the "something" that we've done may actually have a physical benefit, it's often sufficient for our brain to think that now we're safe:  mommy has kissed our boo-boo, the chiropractor has adjusted our spine, or the herbalist has given us magic pills.


NOVEMBER 23, 2003:

When Democrats controlled Congress and the White House, Republicans complained that Democratic spending was increasing the national debt.  The GOP urged a Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

Now that Republicans are in charge, Republican tax cuts are increasing the national debt.  However, they're no longer worried about that.  They never mention balancing the budget.

The politicians really don't care one way or the other about deficits.  That would require long-term thinking, beyond the next election.  Deficits are just an argument to be used, when applicable, to support their position on other issues.


NOVEMBER 24, 2003:

Bloopers are fun.

In high school, rehearsing our junior class play, I played a character who worried that his disgraced family might have to move to Alaska.  “I can see us now.  Sitting on an ice floe. *  Eating blubber.”  Except that what came out of my mouth was “Eating bubluh, uh, bubluh, uh, bubluh . . .”

*A better comic actor than I would have paused here for a laugh while the audience imagined a family on a floe.

Father Knows Best, 1963.  In this  colorized picture from the RHS yearbook, from the left are Carl Martin, Sheryl Keigley, Ron Lane, and me.

(I was also in the senior class play, pictures here and here.)   ..

Then during the performance, my exit line was “When I'm ready to be a grandfather, I'll say so.”  For no apparent reason, I gave one word a broad “a.”  It rhymed with pondfather.  The audience laughed and repeated my inadvertently pretentious pronunciation.


OCTOBER 15, 2003:

Culture keeps changing, even among birds.

When I was a boy, The Blue Book of Birds of America noted of the song sparrow, "Its pleasant, musical song begins with three repeated notes."  And so it was:  twee; twee; twee; and then a fantastic arpeggio.

This summer, half a century later, I noticed that the song sparrow has added a note, at least here in Pennsylvania near the Allegheny River.  Now its song begins twee; twe, twe-HEEE.

And I also heard mockingbirds.  When I was growing up, mockingbirds rarely ventured north of Kentucky.


AUGUST 10, 2003:

Pitcher/broadcaster Dizzy Dean is famous for saying “he slud into third.”  The spelling “slud” was maliciously chosen by outraged grammarians, to make the word appear as though it rhymed with “mud.”  But what I heard Diz say would be better spelled “slood,” to rhyme with “good.”

“Slood” makes sense.  If the past tense of “stand” is “stood,” why can't the past tense of “slide” be “slood”?  If Shakespeare can advance the English language with nearly 2,000 new words, why can't Dizzy Dean be allowed to invent one?  Especially in baseball, where the past tense of “fly” is “flied.”


JANUARY 9, 2004:

In sports, some late-season games are between teams whose seeding in the postseason tournament has already been decided.  Often, neither team will be playing in the postseason.  Such games can have no effect on who will win the championship, so they're called "meaningless" games.

Isn't this term an insult to the participants?  Does athletic competition have no meaning beyond determining who's #1?


DECEMBER 9, 2003:

On September 21, 1970, I was working in Marion, Ohio, when the very first Monday Night Football game was played in Cleveland.  Marion's Harding High School marching band went there to perform.

Correction:  According to my hometown Richwood Gazette, the band was actually the Marion Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, including Richwood's Keith Cowgill.

Back then, TV filled time at halftime by showing whatever happened at the stadium, so Marionites anticipated seeing their band on national TV.  They were greatly disappointed to see Howard Cosell instead.  He introduced day-old highlights of other games.

Later that week, our cable channel showed the band's film of its performance.  It was a wide shot, in black and white, without sound.  Not the same.


JANUARY 23, 2003:

Last July, ABC showed "Pleasantville."  This week, I got around to watching it.  While fast-forwarding through the commercials, I noticed I was zapping more than a third of the tape.

I went back and wrote down the times.  There were 12 quarter-hours, each averaging 9:40 of movie followed by 5:36 of spots and promos.

Is that a lot of clutter?  Had I tried to watch this movie as it aired, it would have been excruciating: a drama in 12 brief acts separated by intermissions nearly six minutes long.  No wonder the growing popularity of TiVo has the networks worried.


DECEMBER 11, 2003:

The captioner on a 2003 USA Network movie had a bad day.

Republican Rudolph Guiliani, seeking Liberal Party support for mayor, proclaims “I can beat Koch or Dinkins!”  The closed caption:  “I can be Koch or Dinkins!”

Guiliani refuses a Liberal's suggestion that he accept Roe v. Wade.  “I need your 25,000 votes.  But I cannot turn my back on my Catholic base.”  The caption:  “I need your $25,000.  But I cannot turn my back on my Catholic faith.”

The Liberal asks, “So, um, if Roe got overturned?”  The caption:  “So, um, I've rolled that over to her.”



SEPTEMBER 4, 2002:

We've got anachronisms in our technological lexicon!

We "dial" the telephone.

We talk to our children about "choo-choo" trains.

Television receivers no longer require fine tuning and no longer consist of sets of vacuum tubes, but we still "tune in" programs on our TV "sets."

Are we stuck in 1948?






OCTOBER 18, 2002:

I graduated from first grade in May of 1954 and looked forward to the three-month summer vacation from school.

I assumed that church was on a similar schedule.  Any given Sunday could be the last time that our attendance would be required until September.

But the expected summer vacation from church never arrived.  We never graduated.


DECEMBER 22, 2003:

On weekends, my parents and I often drove randomly out into the country.  As they pointed out who lived in each farmhouse, I'd gaze at the rural scenery.

I daydreamed.  What if my hometown had its own television station?  One program could be shot from a car traveling these country roads.  I'd call it Sunday Driver.  Shut-ins might like it.


Half a century later, I watch something similar on INHD:  a Japanese high-def TV program, shot by Shinzou Maeda in the neighborhood of the Bibaushi School tower at Biei, central Hokkaido.  Again I gaze on beautiful fields and farmhouses.



Back to Top
of C-Notes, Part 4


More OpinionMore Opinion

Click here for next part
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10