Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I was listening to Kai Ryssdal on the radio yesterday...not your normal, everyday name...and started pondering the preponderance of one-syllable names among those in prominent positions. It would seem that lopping off a few letters is a great way to thrust one's self to the head of the crowd. Fourteen of our U.S. presidents have been one-syllable guys--with six Jameses, three Johns, and three Georges claiming the bulk of that territory. Sixteen others had monikers with a diminutive option, such as Abe, Bill, Ben, etc. Amazing.
So what's the appeal of a one-syllable name? Does that short, sharp bark represent quick thinking? Immediate action? Do we need an easy out for those whose names roll constantly off our tongues? Does short on syllables mean long on dependability? Romance novel protaganists invariably have short names: Luke, Lance, Chase, Chad, Blaine, Brock, etc. Are one-syllable suitors sexier?
I read that, historically, parents have given their sons one syllable names because that was indeed believed to be a precursor to power and success. Daughters, on the other hand, were given voluptuous, multi-syllabic names because they sound more feminine and flowing. Apparently, we're still following that tradition,because, aside from Cher (who began life as Cherilyn), two- and three-syllable names are the norm for gals in both the entertainment and political spotlight. Of course, Oprah has "O" Magazine; I'm wondering...will she have to fight for her vowel once Obama takes up residence on Pennsylvania Avenue and needs a power-packing, headline-grabbing single syllable name? We'll see.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
- As discussed in depth in my last post, I love Christmas music. And I think it's nifty that Baby Jesus gets so much air time during the month of December. But could some program director, somewhere, PUH-LEEZE!, explain why, when every recording artist who's ever held a microphone has recorded a Christmas album, radio stations play the same twenty songs over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over? One of the two Greenville stations playing 24/7 Christmas gets points for adding "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" this year, but I'm still waiting for the Andrews Sisters' "Angie the Christmas Tree Angel," "Pretty Little Dolly" by Mona Abboud, Harvey Danger's "Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas," or Barenaked Ladies " Elf's Lament." Come on, deejays; how many times can we listen to Amy Grant sing "Sleigh Ride"and stay sane??!!
- So Oprah weighs 200 pounds. WHO CARES?! Is she still smart? Yes. Still beautiful? Yes. Still generous, and funny, and a great role model? Yes. NONE of those qualities is even remotely related to weight and to denigrate her because she's not a size 10 is demeaning to women everywhere. I don't like Oprah's taste in books and I liked her better when she wasn't a gazillionaire, but she's an amazing woman and a stunning example of overcoming adversity. To measure her worth by her girth is prejudice at its ugliest.
- WHAT IN THE WORLD WILL WE DO WITHOUT ALAN AND DENNY? The only show I have watched on television for the past three years is "Boston Legal." It wasn't for the meek or the innocent, to be sure, but the razor-sharp dialogue, in-your-face challenges to bad behavior by pharmaceutical companies, credit card companies, and others who prey on the vulnerable, beautiful friendship between two male, wholly heterosexual (to a fault!) friends, and sheer outrageousness of Denny Crain's take-no-prisoners approach to life made this show a joy to watch. I respect the needs of those involved to move on, but I mourn...oh, how I mourn...the demise of Crain, Poole, and Schmidt. Amid the brainless blather on television these days, Shirley and her boys were a fresh breath of brilliance.
- Are there people really dumb enough to waste time opening e-mails dated 12/20/38???? Is postdating an e-mail by thirty years actually an effective marketing ploy for spammers? Perhaps it preys on the all-too-often-proven theory that people don't read, which is apparently how ice cream and sugar manufacturers decided they could weasel a pound out of their product without anyone noticing. (Note to manufacturers: we noticed.) All I know is, if you've put something in my mailbox that could only have been sent by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, I have one word for you: DELETE!!
Well, gee, it feels good to get all that off my chest. But I can't stand to leave things on a negative note right here on the fringe of the first noel. So here's a list of good things to think about this week as we make our way toward Christmas Day. Write and tell me your favorite holiday things!
- Reading (or sending) a Christmas card and thinking about how much that person means to you
- Sitting by a fire, sipping hot cider and watching snow fall
- Singing carols, in harmony, on the front lawn of someone who doesn't expect it
- Having a houseful of guests you adore but don't get to be with very often
- Having the day off and getting to stay in your jammies all morning
- Walking through a mall or down a busy downtown street not to shop, but just to enjoy the sights and sounds
- Watching a children's Nativity pageant--the bathrobes and "Psst! Hi, Mom!" kind
- Sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree lights after everyone has gone to bed
- Seeing families on front lawns Christmas afternoon, testing out new bikes and skates and riding toys
- Playing pick-up football after Christmas dinner
Aren't you in a great mood now? :-)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Last week, I was invited to post on a blog that features a cross-section of Southern authors, A Good Blog Is Hard to Find. Since there are entries almost daily, my post is now way down the totem pole so, rather than make you search for it, I'll share it here--with a few revisions. Apologies to anyone who subscribes to both blogs, but, hey, the more people working on turkey carols, the better!
America, your country needs you.
Every year, the situation becomes more dire and the encroachment gets bolder. Charlie Brown tried to warn us. It started with our merchants, moved to our radio stations and, now, it's moving onto a street near you as homeowners with too much time and too little tradition start hanging their Christmas lights the day after Halloween. The problem? No Thanksgiving songs.
Oh, of course, there's "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come" and "We Gather Together," but that won't even get you started. I suppose you could count "Now Thank We All Our God" and "Give Thanks," but you won't find two out of ten people who know those, and even if you find someone who does, they're not likely to be singing them in the carpool line or humming them while they work. They aren't sing-a-long songs. They aren't lively, or festive, or fun; they are, dare I say, boring. Now I've heard some very fine choral renditions of all those tunes, but you can't change the fact that they're just not...well...zippy.Why is that? Thanksgiving's certainly zippy. It has families, football, fabulous food, and definitely as many nifty accoutrements as Christmas: all those vibrant, plump pumpkins...colorful, whimsical gourds...vivid, jewel-toned leaves...quaint corn shocks and hay stacks...grateful pilgrims and Native Americans...and, speaking of gratefulness, what's not to celebrate about that? Don't we all have blessings for which we're immensely thankful, everything from the biggies--like family and friends and good health--to the cherries on top--like good hair, cell phones (are those still a blessing?), and cranberry sauce? We have the reason, the inspiration, and the opportunity, so why AREN'T there pumpkin carols (or pilgrim polkas, or harvest hymns, or turkey tunes, or whatever we want to call them)?
We think it's appalling when stores start hanging candy canes as soon as the jack-o-lanterns come down but, really, what choice do they have? We Americans like to celebrate, and if nobody's willing to go to bat for Thanksgiving, well, we're just gonna move on to the next occasion on tap. Personally, I'd like to see Louisa May Alcott's birthday make it onto the list of holidays celebrated in November (that would be the 29th, if you'd like to raise a leftover drumstick in her honor), but I'm not going to push my luck. I do think, however, everyone will agree that Thanksgiving is getting short shrift.
I am hereby commissioning anyone who finds it repugnant to be hearing "Here Comes Santa Claus" before the Great Pumpkin has even made it out of the patch to rise to the occasion and produce a set of lyrics and a snappy little melody that would make Miles Standish proud. Come on, now! Don't you think it's time we gave Frosty and Rudolph a run for their money? Time to give leaf piles and cornucopias equal billing with snowflakes and Christmas trees? Just think: you could be the one to save the month of November from the jaws of those mercenary elves who would have us rush past this loveliest of holidays--this occasion that celebrates simple appreciation and is not yet tainted beyond recognition by commercialism and capitalism. In the race to get from Halloween to Christmas--the former the newest contender on the holiday spending tree, the latter the longtime saviour of fourth quarter earnings--we all but ignore Thanksgiving. A couple of parades, a few football games, a quick feast with the fam, then it's on to Black Friday before we've even digested our last helping of stuffing. So get those brain cells stirring! You have just a few days left to gaze upon your pumpkins, ponder your inner pilgrim, and muster up the inspiration needed to give Thanksgiving the three weeks or so of glory it deserves. I invite you to post your efforts here; perhaps, together, we can keep the sleigh reined in until the harvest makes it into the barn.
Your turkey will thank you.