Friday, April 26, 2013

List - April 25, 2013

From the White River Current - Thursday April 25, 2013

Well, here we are, almost to the end of another month into the second year of these bi-weekly visits.  I was thinking that it might be a good time to take a look at one of my favorite subjects:  words.  I am announcing, today, the addition of a new word to Reed’s list of misused/overused words and phrases.  The word is “absolutely.”  This word has gained great popularity among the guests on talk shows and in television interviews.  It has all but extinctified its cousin words, “definitely” and “exactly.”  I fully expect to be present in a meeting in the near future and hear the chairman exclaim “All in favor of the motion, let it be known by saying “absolutely.”  (Those opposing the motion would probably be asked to say “negatory” or something like that but we’ll think about that at a later time.)  The chairman will then announce “…and the absolutelys have it.”  Remember, you heard it here first.  Even though the new word on the list is widely used (or misused), it has a long way to go to catch up with the two words/phrases that are firmly entrenched at the top.  One of these is actually a welding together of the words “you” and “know” and is pronounced “YANO.”  I sometimes catch myself mentally counting the number of times a particular individual might use this language abuse in a normal conversation.  This expression has become such a part of our everyday informal speech that even I have been accused of uttering these words.  I suspect that “no, you don’t know and, in addition, you don’t want to know,” so why do I keep saying that?  Anyway, the other word/phrase at the top of my list makes me wince every time I hear it, which is often.  So popular, especially among younger adults (but not entirely), that it has its own acronym, “OMG”.  Apparently this makes it more convenient to use in e-mails and twitters.  This combination of three words is used as an expression of surprise or awe or a variety of other reasons or for no reason at all.  It can be uttered quickly, like “ohmy…” or to greatly enhance the astonishment level, stretch it out to “Ohhhhhhh Myyyyyyy ……..D.  Call me a pious prude if you want,  but I am offended by the use (misuse) of the name of the Almighty in this frivolous manner.  When I way a boy, it was very rare that you heard anyone use the “name” in vain.  Just something that was not done, especially in public.  The worst thing my mother would utter, when surprised, was “goodness gracious” whereas my dad might say “Great Scott” or “thunder and lightning.”  I believe any of these exclamations of my parents would convey as much of an element of surprise (or whatever) as would OMG and would certainly be more acceptable.  It might even be Biblical (look it up).  Unfortunately, we live in a society where we are told that the First Amendment allows us to say whatever we so desire.  Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean that we have to say something, especially if it is offensive to the other person.  Our children, starting in kindergarten, are taught to be “tolerant” referring mainly to racism and alternate lifestyles.  I like the word, “tolerance” but I believe it is a two-way street.  Doesn’t seem to be happening in our society today, mainly because of political correctness.  I see evidence that the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way.  It won’t be too soon for me.  Years ago, the great singer Nat King Cole recorded a very moving song by the title “Nature Boy.”  The song tells a fantasy of a “strange enchanted boy…who wandered very far” only to learn that “the greatest thing…was just to love and be loved in return”.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that?  You can listen to Nat’s version of this haunting melody on Youtube.  Just meditating and humming along in my corner of the Queen City of the Ozarks, Beautiful Calico Rock.  See you in two weeks.  Bye, Bye!  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Radio - April 11, 2013

As published in the White River Current - Thursday April 11, 2013

It was a beautiful day in New York.  A sell-out crowd had squeezed into the Polo Grounds to watch the game between the Giants and the Cardinals, the two teams who, along with the Dodgers, were battling for the 1951 National League pennant.  Back in St. Louis, hunched over a microphone in a sound-proof studio of radio station KMOX, announcer Harry Caray was excitedly giving the play-by-play to his radio audience.  A cryptic message that read “Musial HR on 3-2” came over the teletype.  Harry leaned over and spoke into the mike “A full count on Stan the man.  Gomez takes his wind; here’s the pitch, swung on and THERE IT GOES, A LONG FLY BALL, WAY BACK; IT MIGHT BE, IT COULD BE, IT IS –A HOME RUN.  Holy Cow!!  Did he ever give that ball a ride.”  The Cardinals won the game but came in third in the pennant race.  The Giants won the deciding game by defeating the Dodgers in dramatic fashion by a walk-off home run by Bobby Thomson that has been described as “the shot heard ‘round the world.”  Before the advent of travelling by jet airplanes, most baseball announcers did the play-by-play reporting from their home town studios, as did Harry Caray.  That did not make the game any less exciting for the listeners.  Harry was so good at it you could picture in your mind the baseball sailing high into the right field stands and Musial trotting around the bases.  A “word picture” of something can be almost as vivid as seeing the event live.  When I was a boy, we had a Philco table model radio.  It took several seconds for the tubes to warm up but we were able to get several stations, all AM of course (this was before FM or television).  Some soap operas were broadcast in the afternoon (the only one I can remember is “Ma Perkins”) and a favorite of many households was “One Man’s Family” which was a weekly production.  My routine was to hurry home from school (I walked), get the snack my mother had put in the warming closet and do my homework.  Then I was permitted to turn on the radio at 5:00 PM to listen to my hero as the theme song would resonate “So just try Wheaties, the best breakfast food in the land” and the voice of the announcer would proclaim “Jack Armstrong, Jack Armstrong, The All American Boy.”  After the few chores and supper were over, I would put on my sleepers and get ready for bed.  But on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights I would get close to the speaker and oh-so-carefully fine tune the radio to WGN, 720, listening for the thumping sounds of the William Tell Overture announcing the thirty minute program, The Lone Ranger.  If I was lucky I would hear the announcer say “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  From out of the past come the thundering hoof-beats of the great horse, Silver.  The Lone Ranger rides again.”  Radio back then was much more exciting that TV is today.  Other great shows were Jack Benny, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Shadow (very scary, sometime), the Green Hornet (theme song was The Flight of the Bumblebee) and other greats.  We got our weather reports from C.C. Williford of station KWTO, 550 in Springfield.  Dad liked Gabriel Heatter for the national news.  He also liked to listen to the Cardinal games.  Harry Caray was the Cardinal announcer for many years before he had a run-in with the owner, August Busch.  He spent one year at the mike for the Oakland team but the owner, Charles Finley, insisted that he change his trademark “holy cow” saying to “holy mule.”  He refused and moved to Chicago where he spent eleven years with the White Sox before ending his career after several seasons as the very popular voice of the Cubs.  He started the routine there of leading the Cub fans in singing “Take me out to the ballgame” during the home seventh inning stretch.  Even though Harry died in 1998 at the age of 83, his singing legacy still continues at Cub’s home games with guest soloists leading the crowd.  Harry’s son, Chip (who died in 2008) and grandson (Skip) became announcers for the Atlanta Braves.  Try to Google Harry and listen to his famous voice.  Also check out some of the other old radio shows through the magic of internet.  Mixing a little  trivia along with the old memories here in my corner of the Queen City.  Bye til next time.