Immortality in crosswords

It is often said you can’t live forever, but in crossword puzzles that is not entirely true. With the right name, you will be recurringly remembered. It is not necessarily the most famous names that come up. It is the names with at least a couple of vowels.

UMA Thurman is a popular actress, but her first name is even more popular in crossword puzzles.

ERMA Bombeck was a witty columnist and author. But, her first name lives on.

ENYA is an enchanting Irish songstress, but her solo name appears often.

Herman Melville’s most famous novel is “Moby Dick,” but in crossword puzzles “OMOO” beats it hands down.

Melville’s more read novel does show up, but its tormented Captain AHAB is the answer to many a puzzle question.

ALMA Gluck was a famous actress, but her first name lives on in puzzles. The same goes for IDA Lupino.

While Charlie Chaplin was the star, his last wife OONA is very popular in crosswords with three vowels.

Several deities appear with some frequency – ODIN, HERA, OLAF.

Even a pair of tennis playing sisters will periodically come up – SERENA and VENUS.

Finally, while he was most famous for playing Obi Wan Kenobi, ALEC Guiness lives on with the crossword Force.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you do crossword puzzles, please share a few of the names you use with some frequency.

You have to be carefully taught

On the news today, I saw the UK Labor Party has been accused of having a few anti-Semites. Not to be outdone, the UK Conservative Party has been accused of Islamophobia. And, as I wrote last week, hate crimes are on the rise in the US largely due to a rise in white nationalists who feel more empowered these days.

People are not born hating. They have to be taught. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote a key song in the musical play and movie “South Pacific” called “You have to be carefully taught.” The lyrics are noted below, but I wanted to mention the context of the play first.

“South Pacific” is a play about the idiocy and harm of bigotry. It was written in the 1949 as a clever metaphor to address the Jim Crow period in the US. Rodgers and Hammerstein knew they had to use a different setting to get their point heeded.

These lyrics are powerful. Please let them sink in as we all need to counter bigotry and racism we see and understand some of our own prejudices.

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!”

Let’s use this Thanksgiving to be thankful for and embrace our diversity. In fact, the first Thanksgiving brought two different groups together.

A few funnies

Comedian Tom Arnold was asked a question on “The View” that was personal and evolved out of the table conversation. “How long does it take for sex at your house?” He responded to the surprise of others, “Thirty minutes.” When questioned, he said “Yea, 5 minutes for foreplay, 5 minutes for sex and twenty minutes to get the pillows off the bed.”

On the CBS TV show “Mom,” the mother and daughter were sharing a bedroom. The daughter got up, went to urinate and came back to bed. The mother said “You didn’t wash your hands.” The daughter replied testily “I didn’t touch anything!”

One of the funniest, recurring lines was provided by the oldest of three brothers when they arrived at the inn on The Bob Newhart Show. Larry would say “This is my brother Daryl and this is my other brother Daryl.” The two Daryl’s never spoke on the show. Newhart often let his ensemble cast get the limelight on his two long-running shows.

A real life funny happened to one of my close friends and his wife. He got a call from his mother-in-law who was very worried about his wife. Mom had been talking to daughter and the phone went silent. My friend rushed home to see if there was a problem. He walked in and found his wife on the couch taking a nap. Waking her, she saw the phone on her chest and exclaimed, “Oh my God, I fell asleep on Mom!”

The funniest movie line was saved by Rob Reiner for his mother in “When Harry met Sally.” After Sally vividly and audibly demonstrates to Harry in a cafe how a woman can fake an orgasm, Reiner’s mother who observed all of this responded to a waiter “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Please feel free to add any funny stories or jokes from real life or TV, movie or theater performances.

Any Poldark fans out there?

On PBS Sunday, the last episode of the excellent series “Poldark” aired. My wife and I have enjoyed the show for years which is based on the novels by Winston Graham. For those who have never watched, the series is worth the effort. I must add that I did not read the novels, so I do not know how true the show is to its roots. It also had an earlier version that aired years ago, which I have not seen.

The series follows the trials and tribulations of a good-hearted, but sometimes rash and stubborn, man in his fight for his family and those who have been disenfranchised. Set in England in the late 1700s, Aidan Turner stars as Ross Poldark, with Eleanor Tomlinson playing his wife Demelza. His main nemesis, George Warleggan, is played well by Jack Farthing.

The female fans are keen to point out their enjoyment of watching Turner play Ross. But, we husbands got to see the lovely Tomlinson along with other actresses playing key roles, such as Heida Reed as Elizabeth and Gabriella Wilde as Caroline.

The plots are well-laid out, although you do get frustrated with Ross. Yet, he is a true blue friend and his heart is in the right place. The scenery on the coast is breathtaking, plus it is enabled by a beautiful instrumental as its theme song. And, there is good historical context about the times and issues.

If you plan on watching, please do not read the comments. For those who have watched the show, I want to inquire about your thoughts on the conclusion and final episode. I will stop here and respond to your thoughts in the comments. Again, for those who plan on watching or are currently watching, please avoid the comments.

The ABCs of male song names

Several months ago, I wrote a post which identified a few songs with a female names in the title by letter of the alphabet. Thinking it would be harder (and it was), here is the same rendering with male names.

A – Abraham, Martin & John, You can call me Al
B – Me and Bobby McGee, Ode to Billy the Kid
C – Charlie Brown, Chuck E’s in Love
D – Daniel, Danny’s Song
E – Eli’s Coming
F – Fernando
G – Gabriel and me, Gabriel’s Message
H – I’m Henry the Eighth
I – Ivan meets GI Joe, Igor’s Theme
J – Hey Jude, Johnny B. Goode, Hey Joe
K – Keith don’t go, Kevin
L – Levon, Bad Bad Leroy Brown
M – Mack the knife, Matthew & son
N – Ned Kelly
O – Oliver’s Army
P – Pancho and Lefty
Q – Quinn the Eskimo
R – Richard Cory, Rapid Roy
S – Boy named Sue
T – Tom Sawyer, Ghost of Tom Joad
U – Uncle Albert, Uncle John’s Band
V – Vincent
W – Little Willie, Willie the pimp
X – X-Men Apocalypse
Y – Flight of Yuri Gagarin
Z – Zack and Codeine

In preparing this list, I did more Googling than with female names in song titles. There are several songs on the list with which I am not familiar. Also, there are more single word female titles, with more of the men name’s accompanied by an action or noun.

Nonetheless, there are a number of very good songs from Dion’s “Abraham, Martin and John” to The Beatles “Hey Jude” to Don McLean’s “Vincent” to Loggins and Messina “Danny’s song” to Jim Croce’s “Bad, bad Leroy Brown” to Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army,” et al.

Please offer your thoughts. I did take liberty with the word “Uncle,” but since it enabled me mention Paul McCartney and Grateful Dead songs, I feel better about it.

Half a dozen heroes to think about

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay in 1940 rather than 1950? Would those 750,000 people have died?

Two men who should get more acclaim are Elliott Richardson and William Ruckelshaus. What did they do? In October, 1973, they refused in succession to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon and were themselves fired. This was the beginning of the end of the Nixon presidency. Nixon called the Watergate investigation a “witch hunt” and said repeatedly “I am not a crook.” He was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t and he was.

A current hero is only sixteen years old, Greta Thunberg, the climate change activist from Sweden. She has inspired tens of millions kids, teens and adults in urging the need for more climate change action. I find her candor and can-do attitude refreshing. She has gotten the attention of legislators, but they need to act. We are behind where we need to be.

The other current hero is former US ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. She was the first to testify to the House impeachment committees. Her political courage and respect for the US constitution is enviable. Her testimony led others to also brave testimony, especially in light of a vindictive president who they reiterated abused his powers. I cannot emphasize their courage enough, as more than a few Republican legislators feel the same but are not as courageous and fear the wrath of the president and his base.

Going against the grain in the face of adversity should be valued. Tubman freed herself and traversed over one hundred miles alone. Then she went back at great personal risk and freed more people. I applaud her and these other five people. We all should.

Saturday after the sugar rush

The trick-or-treaters were beneath our estimates which means we have too many candy bars left. Yikes. The rain delayed our neighborhood celebration until Friday, which may have hurt turnout. So, we will need to unload some candy when the kids are home over Thanksgiving.

One family dressed up as “The Incredibles,” including mom and dad. They get the best costumed family award. We saw a few Power Rangers, a few Godzillas, several Disney princesses, a few Wonderwomen, a couple of Princess Leia’s and Stormtroopers, an adult Pink Flamingo, a couple of dinosaurs and few more individual Incredibles. One young man was dressed as a Cyan Cube, I guess representing an inkjet for a printer, unless I am unaware of a new superhero.

Speaking of trick-or-treaters, there is a neat video of a young lad coming upon an empty candy bowl at someone’s porch. He proceeded to donate some of his candy for the little ones coming behind. It was filmed by the door bell camera. A young good Samaritan. Well done.

Based on our sample size, which offered choices of full-size candy bars of Hershey plain, Hershey w/ almonds, Peanut Butter Cups, and Kit Kat Bars, the plain Hershey’s won out followed by the Peanut Butter Cups, with Kit Kats in third. The Hershey’s with almonds were not popular, but came in the assorted box of candy bars, so were offered up.

What kind of turnout did you have? Any interesting costumes?