Is it Agnes or Maggies?

My wife says “Goodness gracious Maggies!” I was brought up hearing “Goodness gracious Agnes!” She was raised in South Carolina while I grew up in Florida. We don’t know where Agnes and Maggie were raised.

Geography seems to play a role in variations in similar sayings. In the South, I often heard “Bless his (or her) heart” to reference someone prone to inanity. Our friends from Pennsylvania say “God love him (or her)” meaning the same thing.

The more religiously influenced have a variety of sayings. I think the Catholic influence might lead a surprised person to say “Holy Mary mother of God!” which is quite the mouhful. Often, it is shortened to “Holy Mary!” leaving the longer version for more awe-inspiring events.

“Jesus Christ! or the shortened “Jesus!” is uttered when a religious mother is out of earshot. Otherwise, the child might get a look or rebuke. Often, it is shortened to “Jeez,” “Jeepers,” or “Gee whiz,” depending on the generation or religious zeal of the mother.

We can thank Walt Disney for popularizing another replacement with his character “Jiminy Cricket.” Making his name plural makes another saying of surprise. A variation is “Jiminy Christmas” for more exasperating events.

“Dammit,” has long been a shortened version of GD which would have gotten a strong rebuke in my house. The rebuke for Dammit wpuld be less severe. Either phrase reveals disappointment in some failure. I am reminded of Strother Martin’s character in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” The tobacco chewing character would say “Dammit” when his tobacco spittle got on his chin, yelling “bingo” when it did not.

It saddens me to think of the humor of Bill Cosby given his off-stage criminal acts of sexual assault. But, one of his funnier routines was of his father trying to edit his language around his kids. When mad, Cosby said his father could not complete a sentence due to self-censure.

I have shared before the saying of my wonderful ciolleague whose father was a minister. When very frustrated, she would say, “Bad word, bad word.!” Her saying would lighten the moment if others heard her saying it given her temperament.

What are some of your family, friends and region’s sayings? Are they unique to your area or more widespread?

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A talented person

Below, is an edited version of a letter I forwarded to the USA Today which they graciously improved and used in their Weekend Edition.

“President Donald Trump is a talented person.

It consistently amazes me how the most untruthful president (including Richard Nixon) in my memory can convince his followers that everyone else is lying about him.

His biographers have noted the president has a problem with the truth.

So, on any issue about which Trump denigrates critics saying they are lying, Americans should dig further.

As an independent, I don’t mind people being more conservative or progressive than me on various issues.

What I do mind is when politicians lie or forget what they said earlier pretending as if it never happened.

That practice is especially bad when the person doing it is our president.”

What I found interesting is in the same section of the USA Today, the front page said the two people arrested for campaign finance fraud had dinner in the White House. Why is that important? The president said he did not know these people the day before.

The climate of untruthfulness has become more untethered with the departure of more reasonable voices and as the president has painted himself into a corner with rash decisions and inappropriate actions. His lying as a means of defense seems to have ratcheted up. It will only get worse as more people testify.

 

A man called Ove – a curmudgeon worth a deeper look

The title of bestselling author Fredrik Backman’s book “A man called Ove” or the reference to the subject may not be inviting, but give this book a chance. We all have curmudgeons in our lives and sometimes we may even channel our inner curmudgeon. But, why do some people act the way they do?

People Magazine opines on Ove, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel new sympathy for the curmudgeons in your life.” I agree.

Backman introduces Ove in real time, so you will start off with a full-frontal view of a curmudgeon. But, through changes in his daily life and a series of reveals as Ove remembers the good and bad in his life, you gain a new perspective on how he has evolved to be who he is. You will learn Ove has a tough outer shell, but different layers are buried beneath.

To avoid any spoilers, let me mention what is written on the back cover to invite you to read the book. Ove’s daily routine is disrupted when chatty new neighbors with two young daughters announce they have arrived one November morning by accidentally backing their U-Haul trailer over Ove’s mailbox.

Their interactions and related others take an ice-pick to Ove’s icy outer shell. The book is an easy read, but do give Ove a chance. Your initial reaction to Ove will be like everyone else’s whom the character meets in the book. So, bring your proverbial ice pick along. And, some tissue.

Renee Zellweger is superb in “Judy”

My wife and I saw the marvelous movie about the a brief period in the career of Judy Garland simply called “Judy.” Renee Zellweger plays the part so well, you believe she is Judy. I encourage you to go see it, but do take some tissue.

The movie does a nice job of flipping back to past moments in Garland’s life to provide some context. It adds a great deal to the film and makes you pull for the adult Judy even more, in spite of her challenges.

The movie is directed by Rupert Goold and is based on the broadway play called “End of the Rainbow,” by Peter Quilter. Quilter and Tom Edge wrote the movie screenplay. Darci Shaw plays the young Judy, while key parts are played by Jessie Buckley who caretakes Judy while in London, Finn Wittrock who plays a young beau, Michael Gambon who plays the producer of the London show, Rufus Sewell who plays Sidney Luft (the father of two of her children), and Royce Pierreson who plays the pianist/ conductor. Her two girls are played by Gemma-Leah Devereaux (Liza Minelli) and Bella Ramsey (Lorna Luft). A key role is played by Andy Nyman as a Judy fan in London.

But, this is Zellweger’s movie to shine as Judy. We knew she could sing from “Chicago,” but she adds flavor to Judy’s older voice lessened some by smoking, drinking and other issues. The movie covers a five week period when she ventures to London for a series of performances at a large club venue. I will leave off the rationale and mission of the gig, as that is an important part of the movie.

Go see it and tell me what you think. For spoiler alerts, I will ask future readers to not read the comments.

Wednesday walkabout (once again)

I plan to take a hike today, but it might be a tad warm. Water will be with me along with miscellaneous stories percolating in my mind.

The president famously said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and his fans would still support him. Sadly, that continues to be proven true. Only 40% of Republicans believe Trump mentioned Joe Biden on the call with the Ukraine president. Yet, Trump admitted he did.

Note the transcript summary confirmed that he did. It also confirmed that what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was discussed was, in fact, not discussed. Pompeo will be in the crosshairs if he is not forthcoming. I learned a long time ago, smug responses to questions should not be given more credence because of their delivery style. It actually gives me pause.

While I am not a fan of Boris Johnson given his smugness and difficulty with facts, I must give him credit for allowing interviews with reporters asking pointed questions. Could you imagine the US president being interviewed by Chris Wallace? The reason Trump was prevented from being deposed by Robert Mueller is his inability to tell the truth.

Afghanistan had an election, but not many voted. Why? The Taliban made concerted threats of violence against those who did. Think of that as a major reason we should enable a fair voting system. The problem in America is not the wrong people voting, it is by far, not enough people voting.

Finally, former President Jimmy Carter turned 95 this week. He is the oldest former president we have ever had. This is after a cancer diagnosis of about five years ago. Carter is not top of the list when thinking of great presidents, yet he is arguably the finest ex-president we have ever had. The humanitarian and diplomatic work he has done is exemplary. Few people know that he helped lead an effort to eradicate hook worm exposure for barefooted people in imppverished areas. That is on top of his mountain of work for Habitat for Humanity.

That is all for now. Let’s go hiking.

Country music documentary series

Ken Burns has done it again. While not a huge country music fan, I am four episides into the eight part series on “Country Music.” It has been a wonderful history lesson that goes beyond the storytelling of country music.

To avoid spoiling the series for those who have not seen it, let me offer a few key themes:

– the show utilizes historical insights from numerous perspectives – country performers, songwriters, radio DJs, historians and even performers from other genres;

– country music was influenced by and influenced other genres of music – mountain hymns, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, rock-a-billy, pop music, etc.;

– country music was born in Bristol, VA (and TN – the city splits the state line) due to an ad seeking talent to record, but broadened in a number of places based economic migration resulting from the dust bowl and depression, which created these intersections of styles and influences;

– finally, it is the stories within and behind the music – to offer one tidbit, the jazz great Charlie Parker was asked why he paid attention to country music? He said it was the great stories.

There are too many names to mention, many of whom I have never heard. But, exposure to folks like Maybelle Carter who popularized a guitar playing style or Earl Scruggs who popularized a three-finger banjo technique or Jimmy Rodgers who perfected the use of yodeling to accent a song are three examples of its influence.

Rather than give too much away, please watch. It is worth the effort. I look forward to the remainder of the series.

Immortality is indeed possible

My mother passed away almost three years ago. Yet, she lives on. Not just in our memories, but in the donor rolls of way too many charities. Even though she never lived in my sister’s new residence, her address has been updated after my sister moved away from our mother’s home.

So, each week, my mother gets mail from three to five charities. My sister tried stopping a few, but they did not heed her request or changed the name to hers. There must be a quantity requirement for the lists. So, more trees suffer to send out something that will find the trash.

When my mother passed away, I went through her stuff and found about 5,000 pieces of mail requesting money. Often, I found twenty to thirty from the same entity, where my mother wrote “Consider later.” As my mother’s memory faded, this was her coping mechanism. Since some charities send pennies, nickels and dimes in the request, I think we accumulated about $2.50 in change from the stash.

I know charities need money, but is this the best path forward? There are many fine charities out there with good causes, but there are some that are not well run or whose cause is a band-aid not effectuating change. Plus, those that use professional fund raisers, ask them how much goes to the charity and how much goes to them. So, we should all check the charities out.

It is also interesting that my father who passed away thirteen years ago will get an occasional piece of mail requesting money. One surprise was my brother got one and he never lived in the house that my mother and father bought after the kids were raised.

Immortality is indeed possible. At least the nice part is the letter makes us think of mom.