Saturday, December 31, 2005

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (31de05)

"Ribbon of Darkness," a song penned by Gordon Lightfoot, topped the country music charts in 1965, recorded by: a) Dolly Parton, b) Charlie Pride, c) Marty Robbins, d) Gordon Lightfoot.

Weekly History Quiz (31de05)

“Strangler” Lewis was: a) a Hollywood actor in the 1920s, b) a wrestling champion in the 1930s, c) a legendary defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1940s, d) a serial killer in Minneapolis in the 1950s.

Weekly Amusement (31de05)

Amy: Have you ever read Shakespeare?

Jason: Hmmm. I'm not sure. Who wrote it?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (22de05)

The bul bul, a type of "keyed" dulcimer, is native to: a) Pakistan, b) Turkey, c) Siberia, d) The Philippines.

Weekly History Quiz (22de05)

The gospel of Luke, considered the most systematic historical account of the life of Christ, was written for Greek Christians. Luke, a physician, addressed his historical correspondence specifically to an associate named: a) Theophilus, b) Timothy, c) Sophocles, d) Heroditus.

Weekly Amusement (22de05)

Mother: It's time for dinner, children. Go wash up.

Barry: Only one of my hands is dirty.

Mother: Okay, if you think you can wash just that one, fine. Make sure you get it extra clean.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Smoky Issues

Wooden fireplace logs are being banned in some areas because of pollution concerns. To achieve the traditional fireplace effect (including warmth), homeowners are advised to switch to gas logs. To me, gas logs are patently phony. It’s like mounting a plastic replica of a Duesenberg sports car body on a used VW chassis and pretending you drive a Duesenberg.

One thing to be said for their use, however, is the nonsmoke factor. A power outage last week forced us to rely on our fireplace as our lone heat source for more than two days. We kept it burning round the clock. On three occasions, smoke filled the house rather than exiting up the chimney. We never resolved why. The flue was open; the wood was good. Someone suggested we were trying to burn wet logs, but I’ve been unable to verify that as a potential cause of smoking up a living room.

In searching the Web for “flue clues,” I found a very good page of fireplace tips and information by realty inspector/author Bill Ball. If you’re bothered by flawed smoking or other wood-burning concerns, visit

Monday, December 19, 2005

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (19de05)

During the 1850s, New York City had how many minstrel theatres? a) none, b) 4, c) 10, d) 46.

Weekly History Quiz (19de05)

Atchison, KS, is named for David R. Atchison, who was a mid-19th-Century U.S. senator from: a) South Carolina, b) Missouri, c) Oklahoma, d) Kansas.

Weekly Amusement (19de05)

Tom: Have you ever heard of Uncle Arctica?

Megan: Hmmm. I'm not sure. Is he married to Antarctica?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Glance at the 1611 KJV

I still use the King James Version of the Bible frequently—for several reasons. Certainly there’s the sentiment factor, after generations of reference to it by my ancestors. There’s broader, deeper sentiment in that it’s a truly “historic” version (I like history). But more than anything, I simply like to read it—more than I do some of the other translations/versions/paraphrases of the Bible I’ve acquired over the years. Typically, I keep one version near my workstation for a few weeks, then another. I like to read the Word afresh and I like to compare wordings.

As for the KJV, I’m neither a naysaying modernist (“You need one of the recent translations if you want to clearly understand what it means.”) nor a flaming antimodernist (“Do you know how many times those editors replaced the word ‘God’ from the original scriptures?!?”) I always want to make sure I’m reading the authentic Word of God, devoid of theo-political and thought police shenanigans, but apart from that, I’m interested in alternate translations.

Peter Waid, our minister at Spartanburg ARP Church, this morning showed me a copy of the original KJV, preserved in the language and lettering of 1611 when it was published. Obviously, even those who insist that the KJV is the only valid version must allow that what we all know as the King James Version has been a bit modernized. Two examples:

Genesis 1:2, "familiar" KJV wording:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:2, KJV as originally published:
And the earth was without forme, and voyd, and darkenesse was vpon the face of the deepe: and the Spirit of God mooued vpon the face of the waters.

Romans 1:17, "familiar" KJV wording:
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Romans 1:17, KJV as orginally published:
For therein is the righteoufneffe of God reueiled from faith to faith; as it is written, The iust fhall liue by faith.

Obviously, as the English language gradually, subtly changes, there eventually becomes a good reason for modernizing biblical text—as long as the scholars don't tinker with the meaning and authenticity of God's word.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (8dec05)

“The Wedding Song,” the solo “special occasion hit” recorded by Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary, was written for: a) Mary Travers, b) Peter Yarrow, c) Don McLean, d) Gordon Bok.

Weekly History Quiz (8dec05)

The USS Nautilus, America’s first nuclear-powered submarine, made its historic voyage between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans beneath the North Polar ice pack in what year? a) 1944, b) 1958, c) 1970, d) 1985.

Weekly Amusement (8dec05)

Hal entered his apartment and found his roommate Brad watching a bowl game on TV.

“What’s the score?”

“35 to 31,” muttered Brad, intent on the drama of the close game’s final seconds.

“Who’s ahead?”

Brad looked up, annoyed at the intrusion. “The team with the 35.”

Busy Berlusconi

I loathe politics but I’m fascinated by Italy, which prompted me recently to read a bio of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Although he’s had a blustery, scandal-ridden political career, the story of his early years is endearing to me.

Did you know Berlusconi paid his way through law school in the late 1950s by selling vacuum cleaners in residential neighborhoods and working singing gigs aboard cruise liners? And that his preliminary vocation focused not on practicing law but on building businesses? Milano 2, a modern suburb of his home city of Milan, was his brainchild during the 1960s. He also became a television magnate.

I have no opinions about his politics (having never examined them), but any guy who worked his way through college as a vac salesman and semipro entertainer has to warrant some repect (IMHO).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Weekly Folk Music Quiz (1dec05)

The sintir, somewhat similar to the Indian sitar, is an instrument strung over a carved wooden log piece covered by camel skin as the resonating body. In what country is it commonly played? a) Egypt, b) Iran, c) Jordan, d) Morocco.

Weekly History Quiz (1dec05)

George Washington was inaugurated as the nation's first president April 30, 1789, in what city? a) Boston, b) New York, c) Philadelphia, d) Washington.

Weekly Amusement (1dec05)

An aging Rodney "Hot Rod" Hundley and scoring phenomenon Elgin Baylor roomed together while playing for the Minneapolis Lakers in the early 1970s. In a game against the New York Knickerbockers, Baylor scored an astonishing 71 points; Hundley accounted for 2. Still, the veteran was quite content, observing that he and his esteemed partner tallied "73 points between us."

A Dose of Bierce

While I’ve always been distressed by Ambrose Bierce’ spiritual void, I’ve been intrigued by much of his writing. (One of his tales already is included in my “Vintage Short Mystery Classics” series of e-booklets.) He unquestionably wrote with wisdom—when headed in certain directions, at any rate—and wit. As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Hence it was I found myself reading just the other night from The Devil’s Dictionary (1911). For those of you who haven’t encountered the work, I’ve selected a few sample Bierce definitions for your edification.

AUCTIONEER, n. The man who proclaims with a hammer that he has picked a pocket with his tongue.

GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.

HUSBAND, n. One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.

PRESENT, n. That part of eternity dividing the domain of disappointment from the realm of hope.

REPRESENTATIVE, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.

SELF-ESTEEM, n. An erroneous appraisement.

TEETOTALER, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.

YANKEE, n. In Europe, an American. In the Northern States of our Union, a New Englander. In the Southern States the word is unknown. (See DAMNYANK.) [Note: Bierce was a Union officer in the Civil War.—deh]