Monthly Archives: January 2008

Joe Namath nameth Giants

Victory sometimes takes years to achieve. It took a long time to persuade some members of my congregation that the annual meeting doesn’t necessarily have to conflict with the Super Bowl. It did one year, when my Oakland Raiders beat Philadelphia. And that was during the times when video recorders sold for $600 and Tivo was several dreams away. Not only did our meeting take place on the same day as the big game, it was scheduled for the same hours as well.

“Don’t you see, Art, that we’re doing the work of the Lord? And besides, the Lord doesn’t care about a football game,” one member said. I concluded the Lord most certainly would be at the game, and our annual meeting in the future could and should be moved up or back a week.

My remark was that I’d phoned Paul Tagliabue, then-commissioner of football, to ask whether the date of the Super Bowl could be changed to accommodate my church’s schedule. I told members of my church, “Paul Tagliabue seems a lot more flexible than some of you.”

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Let’s do breakfast at 12:45 p.m.

One of the more telling lines about language was uttered by Jack Lemmon in the 1965 movie, “How to Murder Your Wife.”

A confirmed bachelor, Stanley Ford, played by Lemmon, gets drunk at a bachelor party, proposes to the beautiful Virna Lisi, who’s just jumped out of a cake, and gets hooked, compliments of an equally inebriated judge.

The next morning, Ford awakens to find Lisi next to him in bed and discovers she speaks no English, only Italian.

He asks something like, “What’s your name?” but realizes there’s no way she’d understand, so he changes it to “What’s-a your-a name-a.”

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We trust what we hear

Always a decent speller, I’ve consistently struggled to explain to others why it’s important. Often, when I try to point out the egregious use of a word or phrase, the pontificatee comes back with “So what’s the big deal?”

Last week, a reader, Joan Laumbach, asked me if I’d deliberately misspelled a couple of words in a recent column. What I answered differed from what I thought. I told her something like, “If the material was in quotation marks, I probably rendered the word the way I heard the person pronounce it.”

But what I thought was: Trujillo, you blew it again.

We can always blame spell-checkers, which spell things correctly, even if the words are the wrong ones, like “to” and “too.” But we’ve been down the spell-checker interstate before.

Modern word processors are sophisticated enough to point out a missing verb or even a word or phrase in the wrong case, number, gender or tense.

In college, I was impressed when the art history professor, the late Elmer Schooley, said, “I eat nails when I see careless misspelling.” Continue reading

A real blue light special

Almost every morning since Christmas, I’ve awakened to find a different item covering the receiver that goes with the TV set and allows us to receive a zillion channels, most of which deal with shopping and preaching.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . a sock that covered the blue light on the receiver that tells us it’s on. On the second day, My Delight balanced a pecan turtle over the blue light.

On the third day of Christmas, my spouse (by the way, the true love, My Delight and my spouse are one and the same) stood up a greeting card. Each day featured a different barrier.

My iPod has become the permanent blocking fixture. Continue reading

Is the convertible top up or down?

No matter how hard I try, I can’t grasp various temporal and spatial concepts.For example, I’ve never understood it when someone says he rode in his convertible “with the top down.” Fortunately, there are few convertibles anymore, so I don’t have to think. But seriously, does having the top down mean the convertible was closed? Or was it open?

Someone, please set me straight on this concept. Three members of my family say the top down is the way to enjoy the open air. But somehow that seems just plain wrong.

Another concept I’ve wrestled with is the idea of “setting the clock back” for the time change. To me, setting the clock back means reversing the motion of the hands. Ergo, at 2 a.m., if we set the hands to read 1 a.m., we’ve “set the clock back.” I say this because “setting the clock back” is (to me) the act of backing up the time or reversing the order. Continue reading