Thursday, July 31, 2014
Tom Petty’s disappointed I won’t be buying his new his new “Hypnotic Eye” album in vinyl.
The classic rocker — and I use that adjective as a heartfelt compliment and not a genre designation — says vinyl is far superior to digital.
I’ve heard this argument before from others whose opinions I respect. They say our digital formats make their carefully crafted music sound like crap.
To me, it’s like hearing someone tell me sex would be better if we did it on a different mattress. I enjoy sex just fine the way it is, thank you very much.
It’s the same with music.
Amazon sells the vinyl “Hypnotic Eye” for $26.98, but buying it would actually cost me $171.16 because I’d need to buy a $144.18 Sony turntable to play the thing.
In fact, buying “Hypnotic Eye” on vinyl could conceivable cost me $22,267.78 because I’m sure I’d need to change my entire digital collection — all 820 albums — onto vinyl.
And that’s not counting time and money I’d need to buy and install another 12-or-so feet of shelving in the basement.
I don’t have the scratch for that kind of whimsy.
The first vinyl album I ever bought was Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” It was 1973. I still remember the exact notes where the scratches from the beloved old album dinged the tunes.
By the time I went to college at Ohio University, I must have had 300 or so albums. I remember what a pain in the ass it was to lug boxes and boxes of them up the steps at the old dorm (it was Pickering, Bobcats).
I’m not sure of the last vinyl album I bought, but I know the first CD was “Steel Wheels” by the Rolling Stones in 1989. Vinyl had a good long run. I loved everything about the format. I loved the cover art, the liner notes and even the way a new album smelled.
I have very little affection for digital, it’s so sterile, but I love being able to carry 7909 songs by 241 artists in my pocket.
I don’t think Petty and others — let’s go ahead and call them music snobs — understand what goes on in my head when I hear their music played usually through an iPod linked to my Bose Wave Stereo (and that’s some quality equipment, that Bose).
I’m not sitting here in my office.
No, I’m right there in the studio with him and The Heartbreakers. I look over and see Mike Campbell tearing into a scorching solo. My spine tingles with the beat drummer Steve Ferrone’s laying down. I look over at pianist Benmont Tench and he smiles at me. He’s the best. He lets me sit right next to him on the piano bench.
That’s how much music means to me.
It’ll offend some diehard Springsteen fans — and I consider myself one of them — but Tom Petty is our most perfect American rocker.
At 63, he’s still electrifying. His great rock has always seemed the most effortless, the most authentic, the most testicular.
I said a few years ago that Petty’d only written one bad song (“A Wasted Life” from 1983’s “Long After Dark.” That’s hyperbole. It’s maybe three.
But Springsteen had one bad decade. It was the 1990s. Chuck that whole decade from his catalogue and nobody would miss a thing.
Picking between the two is more of a “Sophie’s Choice” than most people imagine.
It’s easier listening to two uninterrupted hours of Tom Petty on satellite radio than it is doing the same with E Street Radio.
Petty just never misses the bullseye, while Bruce, who often indulges a more experimental bent, sometimes is wildly off-target.
Of course, Springsteen’s the superior live performer and Petty’s uniformly great albums have never reached the towering heights of, say, “Born to Run,” “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” or “Tunnel of Love,” one of my favorites.
I’m sure many of you will disagree with me, some vehemently. But it would be fun for the two of us to get together in some really great bar with an old jukebox and just spend the day debating song-by-song, album-by-album who's better.
And I’ll bet most of us on this one point will be in agreement.
You’d have to be an idiot to start buying vinyl all over again.
Related . . .
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I swear there were times this month when I thought, man, this is going to be my best tweet month ever! It was not to be. I think because every time I thought of a good, snappy tweet I was far from an internet connection and the thought fled my mind before I could jot it down. That’s okay. They’ll eventually come back and I reduced the risk of looking like a distracted jerk by tweeting the in presence of actual people.
Follow me at 8days2amish! Or don't . . .
• Asked daughter, 8, if she'd had anything healthy to eat today. She said her gum was strawberry. I surrendered to her logic.
• Due to frequent collateral damage, I propose the military begins distinguishing ballistics by calling some bombs missiles and others hittles.
• I wish it was a seafaring tradition that anyone who is called "Skipper" actually moved from place to place by skipping.
• I hope I never become so cynical that I stop being in awe of passing jetliner & I hope people are more careful about where their dogs poop.
• Always disappointed to go to a Pirate game & see kid wearing "Bat Boy" jersey and realize it's not the BatBoy from old Weekly World News.
• Levi Strauss was a true jeanius.
• I sometimes submit to at least 20 minutes of girls' Radio Disney just so "Rocks Off" will feel so soulfully clarifying when it's my turn.
• For reasons of justice, environmental improvement & pure symmetry, I think any hedge fund managers convicted of misdeeds should fund hedges
• Palindrome should be spelled “palindromemordnilap"
• I sometimes fear my Odor Eaters will forget their benign mission and begin consuming parts of me I’m casual about washing.
• I sometimes ask myself if I drink too much. I usually say no. I do this out loud and using two different voices like I'm on stage.
• I wonder how many sassy men have died of mortal gunshot wounds seconds after uttering the identical last words, “Ha! Ha! Missed me!”
• Peg-leg sea captains have a 50-50 chance of starting the day off on the right foot.
• I’d like to teach the world to sing! In perfect harmony! But then spent night in a bar on karaoke night and realized it ain't gonna happen
• He’s one of my all-time favorite Americans, but even I can't defend Ben Franklin's mullet.
• The world would be a lot more satisfying if people known for being lightning rods began attracting actual lightning.
• Someday I’m going to enter a house with “Welcome!” mat, sit on the couch, grab the remote & ask homeowner to bring me a beer and some chips
• The toes on my left foot are getting so spread out I might be the first person in history to be able to give someone the finger with a foot.
• For all his enraged violence, Moe never once hit Curly, Larry or Shemp in the groin. Know what that means to me? He was at heart a gentleman
• It’s an historical irony that if one or the other ever needed a stunt double, Hitler and Moe Howard would have had to call one another.
• Scientists will in 10 yrs figure way to harness hate as renewable energy. Good: it's green. Bad: Driving someone crazy will be civic minded.
• The Titmouse might be creation's worst-named creature. Neither tit nor mouse, it disappoints on so many levels.
• “Price is Right!” would be more compelling if winners were bidding on stuff from Drew's home.
• No doubt I wear the pants in my family (me, wife & 2 daughters). That those pants are pleated capris doesn't make a damn bit of difference.
• Chicken fingers are one of America's most popular meals. Yet, chickens have no arms or hands. Something strange happens between farm & table.
• Problem: Ocean waters rising, Cali in major drought. Solution: teach Californians and all their plant life how to thrive on salt water.
• Americans Against Stupid Silent Letters unite! It's no longer Wednesday. Let's all make it Wensday! (this message brought to you by AASSL).
• Daugher, 8, has a new favorite word. It is toiletries. I don't have the heart to tell her it's not spelled toilet trees.
• Earning so much this summer I'm taking the wife out for a splurge. Yep, we're dining someplace that doesn't have crime-height tape on exits!
•Technological advances combined with desperate bookkeeping mean many people today rob Peter to PayPal.
• “Price is Right!” contestants represent a great cross section of America if all America were comprised of insane extroverts.
• I was so intent on conveying my disdain for a texting female driver I nearly ran into her car. I was distracted by a distracted driver.
• I’m going to stand in dimly lit room, extend video cam & spin ‘til I’m dizzy. Then I’ll post & boast I spent 2 mins in eye of a tornado.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I hear it’s common for fathers on their deathbeds to lament they didn’t spend more time with their children.
That’s not me. I foresee my deathbed regret being I didn’t spend more time watching TV.
I wonder if I’d have agreed to the deal if someone had warned me just how much parenting would cut into my TV viewing. There’s so many shows I want to watch, so much sports I want to witness, but I want to set a good example for our girls and that last bit is killing me.
I love our daughters and all the time I get to spend with them, but sometimes you just have to say enough’s enough.
Maybe it’s feeling acute because we just got back from vacation, which is in many ways like being confined to a minimum security cell block, albeit one where you spend lots of time slathering lotion on one another. And call me naive, but I just don’t see that much SPF 30 being distributed in the slam.
But like being in prison, it’s just the four of you for days and days in the car or the house or at the beach. Eat, play, travel — everything is done as a unit.
A friend saw a picture I’d posted and speculated it must have been difficult to leave the Outer Banks.
Yes, it was wonderful, but I’ll admit I drove faster and more recklessly on the way home than I did on the way down. Of course, the way down included a visit with the in-laws so a certain amount of deliberate dawdling must be factored in.
But six days was plenty.
Another problem is I can’t ease off the fathering pedal. I’m a very potent father.
Not in the way father-of-19 Jim Bob Duggan is potent, certainly, but I’m always looking for ways to shape the children in the hopes they’ll avoid becoming uncouth morons that make up such a large swath of our national demography.
And, for God’s sake, I have to do all this sober.
Val and I enjoyed some wine and beers on the trip, but I was very responsible. I’m very aware that my daughters are always watching me and I need to set a good example.
So when I got home Saturday I ran straight to the bar. I missed my friends, I missed swearing and I missed behaving in ways middle school health teachers say will lead to my early demise.
Many people go on vacation to change unhealthy behaviors. They need to detox.
When I get home from vacation I need to REtox.
That’s what’s scheduled for this week. I coincidentally will be visited by two very good friends the next two days who’ll assist me in the debauch.
There’s still time for you to make it to The Pond for lunch today. My legendary friend Angelo Cammarata and his two sons are coming for the afternoon.
The Guinness Book of World Records cited him in 1987 for being the world’s longest serving bartender. He poured his first beer on April 7, 1933, at midnight, the exact moment killjoy Prohibition in America ended. He poured them clear through 2009 when he had to retire for health reasons.
His 59-year-old son suffered a heart attack and could no longer run the bar.
When the Steelers sought to honor their most devout fans by having them submit 5-word reasons, Camm’s was “Season ticket holder since 1933.”
I attended his 100th birthday in March. He’s one of the greatest men I’ve ever known.
I once asked him when he was 92 to pinpoint the best years of his life, figuring he’d give a very narrow answer. He didn’t.
“For me, the best years were from when I was 40 to about 75. Those were just really great years.”
What an inspiration.
And then tomorrow a buddy from Ohio University is stopping by for golf, Steeler camp and all the associated silliness.
During stops at home, my daughters will see me laughing, having fun, being social and enjoying life the way it ought to be.
What they won’t see me doing is sitting on my rear watching hours and hours of TV.
That’s something I hope to do again one day when the girls are done watching me.
Related . . .
Monday, July 28, 2014
One of the most exasperating aspects about my blogtending is realizing how my readership increases whenever I don’t blog.
It happened again last week when I took my longest sabbatical ever. We were at the Outer Banks and I didn’t once for seven full days try and compose a single blog. In six years I’d never previously gone more than four days.
Yet last week my readership actually increased. It’s a terrible message to send to someone so prone to soulful laziness.
It leads me to believe I could become a much more successful blogger if only I’d take steps to ensure I’d never blog again.
But I’d miss blogging. I missed it last week.
And I felt bad for you, you readers who look forward to taking a few minutes every other day or so to check in. I felt like I was letting you down. Something you’d come to rely upon just vanished without warning.
Of course, my wife contends it’d be stupid for me to blog that we’re out of town and I don’t like writing in advance, preferring to write that morning what I’ll post later that same morning.
Val suspects criminal elements may read my blog and would break into our home if I wrote we were away on vacation.
I disagree. I think if I announced that we were away, teams of devotees would spontaneously form vigilante security squads to safeguard the home. Others would mow the lawn, wash the windows, and cut and stack stray firewood. I’ll bet my friend Marty, one of my most manic readers, would use the spare time to dash over and put a brand new roof on the place.
That’s how much I think of each and every one of you.
But just imagine the spousal blowback if I blogged that we were away and returned home to find we’d been cleaned out by sassy bandits who’d left a note that said, “You went to the Outer Banks and all we got was your TV, your jewelry, your stereo, etc. . .
“P.S. Love your blog!”
I’d never near the end of it.
The other reason I didn’t blog was the Kill Devil Hills home where we were staying had no internet access. Heck, it barely had “Seinfeld” reruns.
I’m telling you, it was primitive.
But it was near the beach, near a great BBQ joint and near a place that shucked some mighty fine oysters.
Thanks to my travel writing opportunities we’ve been able to enjoy some snazzy vacations. Remember, when I started freelancing in 1992 I called my travel writing venture Palm Features because I wanted it to convey tropical intentions. But the real reason I called it Palm Features was because my hand was always reaching out for freebies.
And it worked like magic. The free travel poured in.
But there’s something so absolutely wonderful about an unhurried and under-scheduled family vacation. People often use the phrase “no day at the beach” to describe something difficult.
So it’s surprising you rarely hear the cheerful reverse because a day at the beach is a truly a day at the beach.
Nothing else feels so transformative. There’s no lines. No admission. No jostling.
Just pure rejuvenation.
We played in the sand, rode the waves, dashed after crabs and just filled up our tanks for the 4-degree February days when we’re outside waiting for the school bus.
So it’s back to work for me, or whatever you call feeling an obligation to do something so time-consuming for free. I’m immediately resuming blogging with a frequency that somehow seems to guarantee fewer readers will check in than when I take a day or two off.
I’ll spend a lot of time trying to conjure up topics that’ll either inform or entertain and I’ll be up with the roosters to try and get it all done before the productive husk of the day dawns.
Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy blogging, have no plans to ever quit, and am grateful to all those who take time to stop by.
I just want everyone to understand blogtending is no day at the beach.
And thanks to the past seven days, I know exactly what that means.
Related . . .
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I’m taking the unusual step of informing you of one of my favorite “holidays” five days in advance to give you time to plan something. Anything. Even a little nothing will make a difference. Yes, Friday is Christmas in July! The surprise in my family is gone and now my greedy little darlings are awash in crass expectation. That ruins it a bit for me. But not for you! Try and throw together a little surprise celebration for Friday. It can be very fun and soul-enriching.
Remember, only five more shopping days until Christmas in July!
The stockings aren’t hung by the chimney with care and St. Nicolas is no where in sight.
You can stand in our doorway and demand figgy pudding until you’re blue in the face. You can go. You won’t get some.
No Black Friday sales stampedes, no wrapping, no in-laws, no Savior-thanking hoo-ha.
Merry Christmas in July! It’s the secular essence of the holy day everyone loves for all the wrong reasons.
It’s only 153 days until Christmas. That means it’ll only be about 54 days until our area retailers begin cramming Christmas down our throats. It’ll be sales, displays, carols, and mercenary goodwill before they even put out the Halloween candy.
For me, it’s all gone from “Oh! Holy Night!” To “Oh! Holy Crap!”
Just thinking about Christmas in October through December raises my blood pressure.
And I’m not talking about the sacred parts, which I enjoy. I love when duties ease and there’s time to bask in soulful understanding about why Christmas really matters.
That lasts about 30 minutes. Then it’s back to strategizing party visits like Ike did on D-Day.
That’s what makes Christmas in July such a subversive pleasure.
I started doing it for the girls about five years ago. I thought it could be a sort of surprise poor-man’s Christmas, which makes perfect sense because I’m a very poor man.
What’s great is the expectations are absolute zero. In fact, as I type this our daughters, ages 11 and 6, don’t even know it’s Christmas in July.
In about 20 minutes, I’ll begin blasting Bob Dylan’s 2009 oddball Christmas carol collection, “Christmas in the Heart.” I love Dylan, but hearing him sing, “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Must Be Santa” in July is perfectly surreal.
Heck, given his nonsensical interpretations of his own hits, any more hearing Dylan sing “Blowing in the Wind” is perfectly surreal.
The jarring sounds will cause such a clatter, the girls will storm out of their rooms to rage. Their instinct will be to shout at me for waking them and, even worse, waking them with Bob Dylan.
Then -- hallelujah -- they’ll see the Christmas in July card table, the “Merry Christmas in July!” cake surrounded by all the newspaper wrapped presents that include the plastic DVD crate containing the video store rental of the classic “A Christmas Story.”
It’s Christmas in July!
It’s so unexpected.
Part of that is because I don’t do it every July 25. Not having it every year allows forgetful loved ones to be surprised when it suddenly reappears without any typical holiday hype. That’s the beauty of Christmas in July. You make up the rules as you go along.
For instance, one year I bought for a centerpiece a lovely mistletoe and roses floral arrangement. This year I didn’t want to risk feeling stressed, so I instead used my Pittsburgh Pirate ballcap.
It’s nice, too, for Val because for traditional Christmas she does nearly all the shopping, all the cooking, all the cleaning and all the fretting.
Really, with me doing all the drinking, it’s a wonder it bugs me so much.
So I get her a nice bottle of wine and a card thanking her for all she does.
You know what the best part of Christmas in July is?
Telling people you’re shopping for Christmas in July. You get a real charge out of sharing the idea with people. They seem so charmed.
I think that’s because we could all use a little more year ‘round Christmas, but none of us wants to go through any more Christmas to have it. So it’s nice to take maybe one day a year to have a little Christmas without all the hell and the hassle.
It’s nice, too, because it’s a momentary break from having to think about gun violence, pedophiliac coaches and the national heartbreak of “Twilight” actress Kristin Stewart hooking up with snakey director Rupert Sanders.
It’s a nice respite.
And, you know, for just one day it really ‘tis the season.
Friday, July 18, 2014
John McIntire invited me to appear on his KDKA-AM 1020 radio program Saturday at 9 p.m., as if “appearing” on radio is a metaphysical possibility. Here are some reasons why you might want to tune in to the streamer link.
• We won’t discuss anything depressing. John’s not going to ask me my opinions on the bloody conflict in Gaza, the downed Malaysian jetliner or how the drought in California is going to affect the price of lettuce in Pittsburgh.
• I might sing. I always include a little tune in all my live appearances and it’s always a soul-tickling experience. For me, at least. I say that while acknowledging not one single person’s ever come up after one of my speeches and said, gee, they wished I’d sung longer and louder.
• For the first time ever, I have reason to be an on-air optimist. I’ve been intermittently appearing on Pittsburgh radio and TV since 1994. I’ll bet during those 20 years I’ve never once been heard broadcasting the words, “My career’s going great! And I’m confident tomorrow’s only going to be better!” But if we do talk about my career, I’ll be sure to talk about how successful my speaking engagements have been. People are really responding to my talks and there’s reason to believe that cheerful reaction is about to grow exponentially.
• John is the most compelling voice on Pittsburgh radio. Doug Hoerth, Jack Bogut, Lynn Cullen, Scott Paulsen — giants once roamed the radio here. No more. Across the dial, Pittsburgh radio is a uniformly lame landscape of harpies and posers. John is the only guy you listen to who at least once every show says something outrageous enough to convince you he doesn’t care if he gets fired or not. He’s always been the kind of liberal who’s enjoyed by conservatives who genuinely enjoy being on his show.
• You can feel like The Waltons used to. Gather the family around the radio and shut off all the other devices. For authenticity’s sake, stare straight at the radio the way the old timers used to like they could visualize what was happening in the studio.
• John might be cranky. If you’ve never heard him, you might think of John like David Letterman. He’s always very funny, but he’s riveting when something he won’t talk about is really pissing him off.
• I might for the sake of publicity stage a freak out. This seemed to work for Joaquin Phoenix. I think it’d do wonders for my publicity if there were news stories about the guy who wrote the book about being nice and happy trashed the KDKA studios when host John McIntire refused to fetch him a plum.
• In this day of archived appearances, this might be your only chance to hear me with John on KDKA. I was last on in May ’13 and we had a lively hour that earned a fantastic reaction. But KDKA, then at least, had some prohibition about posting a link to any of John’s shows and the engineer blew me off when I pestered about a tape. So it’s like it never happened. I might just tape the thing on my iPhone right there in the studio. It’d let you hear all the off-mic banter during the commercials when I ask John if my voice sounds okay, if my jokes are funny and if my pants make my butt look too big.
• The Bucs will still have at least 78 other games. They play the Colorado Rockies Saturday with a 7 p.m. first pitch. So the most interesting part of the game will probably coincide with when I’m on with John. I give you selfish permission to skip the Bucs and listen to us.
• There’s always a chance I’ll get drunk before the show. Those chances are slim, but there is precedent. I remember in about 2000 when John was still doing his much-missed PCNC cable show and he asked me to appear — truly appear — on Fat Tuesday. I said yes, but that didn’t mean I was going to skip a downtown splurge to which I’d been invited. What I remember most was prior to the show walking into the station men’s room and finding WPXI anchor David Johnson’s make-up kit by the glamor mirror. I looked in the mirror and noticed a shiny spot on my forehead. I reached for the powder pad and gave the shiny spot a gentle dab. Then I noticed another. And another. And another! I did so much foundational dabbing that I came out looking like an Oompa Loompa. I also remember blurting out nonsensical things and laughing hysterically at myself and looking over and seeing John looking at me with an expression best described as quizzical. Oh, how I wish I could find a tape of that show.
• I might mention your name! I’m going to ask John if he’ll let me read all the names of people who’ve told me they read and enjoy my blog. And to shake things up, I’m starting with the Zs and going backwards. Know what that means? For once, you’re first, Theodore Zyzak!
And lastly . . .
• An hour of commercial radio: No erectile dysfunction ads!
Related . . .
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I always make a point anytime we’re out at some family restaurant to ask the waitress if she has chicken fingers. The answer is always yes.
“Oh, you’re being too hard on yourself,” I say. “Your fingers are ugly, but they still appear human!”
I do this knowing it embarrasses my family and ups the odds my order will now be seasoned with waitress spit.
Chicken fingers are one of the world’s most popular menu items, yet I’ve never seen a single fingered chicken. Chicken don’t even have arms or hands.
How can they possibly have fingers?
If chickens had fingers you can imagine they’d be giving us the middle one for eating so many of them.
Chicken anatomy has always confused me.
One of the most desirable parts of a chicken is the breast.
It’s the same with women. Many shallow men revere breasts, more even than the women to whom they’re attached. And how come you never hear chicken breasts referred to as chicken boobs? Is it out of respect for the chicken?
Breasts of women are referred to with many colorful nicknames. They’re hooters. Jugs. Frost detectors. Jell-o molds. Dingle bobbers. Dairy pillows. Gerber servers. Bazoombas.”
But with chickens it’s always the same delicate wordage the romance novelists use. It is the chicken breast.
Well, la de dah.
It’s a lot of deferential dignity for a part of a yard bird that’s destined to be deep fried and dipped in honey mustard.
I’ll wager no one in history has ever approached a butcher counter and said, “I’m looking for a nice juicy set of chicken tits.”
And breasted women all have nipples. Us dudes, too. And for every human breast there’s at least a little nipple.
So chicken have breasts. Women have breasts. Women have nipples. How come we’ve never heard of a nippled chicken? Is it a delicacy? I’d imagine chicken nipples would make a tasty snack.
The Nippled Chickens would be a great band name, too, I think.
Given gourmet eating trends, you might soon see chicken feet at a food truck near you. Chicken feet are very popular in China, Korea, Vietnam, Mexico and parts of the Caribbean.
Me, I don’t care how exquisitely you prepare the dish, I’m nervous about eating the feet of any animal that walks barefoot through where it poops.
So I’m fine with chicken wings and fingers. In fact, the so-called chicken “finger” is actually the tender white meat under both sides of the breast bone, the pectoralis major.
I’m going to order a set of breaded pecs at the KFC drive-thru next time I’m there just to enjoy the confusion it causes.
My mother’s absolutely nuts about chicken fingers. She’s 81, has dementia, and recently called me at 11 p.m. to say she had an emergency: She was out of wine and toilet paper.
I asked if she had enough of the one would she not need the other.
But for the last two years or so she just craves chicken fingers. It’s all she’ll eat. She without fail orders them out in restaurants and insists I bring her a big bag or two from the frozen food coolers during my weekly grocery visits.
That’s how I became acquainted with the newest trend in chicken part consumption. There’s now a chicken nugget that comes in what is described as “fun dinosaur shapes.” Mom says they’re great.
It’s almost enough for my sanity’s sake to consider becoming a vegetarian and I would, but I know I’d miss steak-shaped beef too much.
I can only guess fun-shaped food is for kids so refined that deep-fried microwaved nutritionally desolate crap must have an aesthetic appeal before he or she shoves it a down their throat.
I don’t know what’s so fun about dinosaur-shaped food. Haven’t these kids seen “Jurassic Park?”
If dinosaurs ever come back — and, you watch, that’ll be yet another result of catastrophic climate change — whole generations of chubby children will march right into their rapacious maws tragically thinking anything that fun shaped is sure to be friendly.
So I’m hoping introducing novelty items to Mom’s diet doesn’t backfire next time we dine at some family restaurant.
I wouldn’t want her stealing my thunder when I ask the waitress if she has fun-shaped chicken breasts.
Related . . .
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I’ve said previously that for the sake of clarity “palindrome” should be spelled palindromemordnilap.
That way people would never forget a palindrome is a word spelled the same forwards as backwards.
I bring this up today because I heard an ABBA song — “Waterloo” — on my morning stumble through the grocery store and immediately thought, as I always do, “Here’s a song by the most prominent palindrome rock band in music history.”
I’m not saying they’re better, but ABBA’s enjoyed more commercial success than bands named If I Had a Hi-Fi, To Rococo Rot or Dopapod, the latter best known for its palindromic 2009 album, “I Saw Live Dopapod Evil Was I.”
I know way too much about ABBA and I suspect my curiosity about palindromes is to blame.
For instance: “abba” is a Hebrew word from the Bible that means father, but that’s not how ABBA got its name — sometimes printed with the stylized first B backwards so it looks like a true palindrome (above).
No, the band is ABBA because the band members are Agnetha Faaltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
I much prefer the Winnipeg rockers to ABBA, but you have to give it to the Swedes. They put much more thought into their name than did B.T.O., a great abbreviation band named after primary members Randy Bachman, Fred Turner and Bert Overdrive.
I made that last one up. There is no Bert Overdrive.
The word palindrome stems from the Latin words palin, (means “again”) and dromos (means “way, direction”).
(Trivial aside: I once tweeted that a Sarah Palindrome would be an insightful blond capable of seeing Russia from the front porch of her Key West home.)
ABBA intrigues me because it might be the world’s shortest palindrome. Most palindromes are five letters: refer, civic, kayak, radar, etc.
Or in this case should that be etcte?
I once read a story about a walking palindrome named Zerimar Ramirez. It be fun to be his friend because you could be certain he’d never overstay his welcome, always coming and going as he is bound to do.
The Oxford English Dictionary says the longest single-word palindrome is tattarrattat, a 12-letter word palindrome coined by James Joyce to convey the sound of a door being knocked upon.
The longest phrase palindrome I can quote from memory is “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!” It’s 21 letters long.
The phrase is credited to author Leigh Mercer who published the palindrome in 1948. It’s historical and punchy. It will endure.
I wonder how long it took him to come up with that handy dandy. I think it must have taken at least a concentrated week or so. Maybe more.
What about ones like these uncredited gems?
• A man, a plan, a cat, a ham, a yak, a yam, a hat, a canal — Panama!
• A slut nixes sex in Tulsa
• Amy, must I jujitsu my ma?
• Lisa Bonet ate no basil!
• Lisa Bonet ate no basil!
• Zeus was deified, saw Suez.
Blogging, I realize, is an enormous waste of time, but even a guy like me looks at those who compose palindromes and thinks, c’mon, man, get a life.
Of course, they’re all mere pikers when it comes to marathon palindromes. It is said in 1980 David Stephens wrote a 58,795-letter palindromic novel he called “Satire: Veritas.”
His other book is called “Dr. Awkward,” yes that’s another clever one.
His is an odd obsession. I could find precious little about Stephens or his books. Maybe shrewd booksellers realized the folly of publishing a palindrome novel.
Who’d want to read a book that spoils the ending in the very first paragraph?
So there’s a little overview of these linguistic house of mirrors for you to start your day, the A to Z of palindrome.
Or in this case the AB to BA.
Those now in the mood can just for the fun of it can now read the whole thing again backwards starting right here.
It’s a time-consuming splurge I’d advise against on what I’m sure must be an already busy day.
Palindromes can all go in reverse.
Time can not.
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