In pursuit of trivial relevance
November 24, 2013It's the Thanksgiving season and I'm thankful for many things.
Today I'm thankful for trivia. Don't flinch. It's fun, it's informative, it's educational and it's non-controversial. After all, I could be talking about government and its effect on our lives, which might lead my readers to move onto another Roadrunner story.
Actually, before I launch into the pursuit of trivia, did you hear about the new push for term limits for politicians? Two terms maximum — one term in office, one term in prison. Why not? They are already doing that in Chicago and Detroit.
I had hoped to develop a theme for this column like cars, food, history, numbers, politics, etc. — but instead I am going to provide these tiny morsels of joy completely at random, gleaned from my file of perhaps 1,000 lesser-known facts compiled by myself over many decades and available for future use should there be a heavy demand.
Here are a few quickies to get warmed up:
Which celestial body is known as the blue planet? What is the only food that doesn't spoil? How many songs did Elvis Presley record? The most collect calls come on what day? What is the largest joint in the human body? What country is No. 1 in per capital alcohol consumption? What U.S. magazine has the largest circulation in the world? What is the average age of a first-time grandparent?
The answers are: (1) Earth, covered 70 percent by water (2) honey (3) 113 songs — 67 pop, 27 Gospel, 19 Christmas; (4) Father's Day (5) The knee (6) Luxembourg (U.S. is 40th) (7) AARP The Magazine (8) 47.
Now that we are getting the spirit of this, are in the mood for a few zany ones?
What is the history of the middle finger salute? Answer: In 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt, the French expected a big-time victory over the English, and the penalty was to cut off the middle finger of all English combatants, thus denying them now and in the future of using the longbow, the weapon of choice in those days. However, the English won the battle and forever after starting aiming the middle finger at whatever Frenchman they saw. The longbow came from the English yew tree and the term "plucking the yew" soon was shortened to deliver a more emphatic term of dislike.
What happened 9 months (in April) after the alleged Roswell, N.M., Alien Sighting in July of 1947? Answer: The following people were born: Al Gore, Hilary Rodham, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer and Howard Dean. This is not a political statement. Really! You can't make this stuff up.
What does it mean when a statue in a park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air? Answer: It means the person died in battle. If one leg is in the air, it means the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If all 4 legs are on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
If moms and dads are reading this, we have to throw in some questions you can offer to your children and grandchildren to show them how smart you are.
Here we go, by the numbers:
What is the number of states in the U.S. that end with the letter 'a'? What is the number of Seas of the World named for colors? How many sports films have won an Oscar? What sports have appeared in all modern Olympics since 1896? What state capitals have the word city after their names? How many key ingredients are there in Cajun and Creole food? What is the number of U.S. Rocky Mountain states? How many people can share a Nobel peace prize?
The answers are: 21, 4, 3, 5, 4, 3, 8 and 3.
So that's the end. Did you expect me to name the 21, 4, 3, 5, 4, 3, 8 and 3? If Kim Harris didn't keep telling me my columns are too long, I might give you the answers. Which brings me right back to where I started — it's time to be thankful. For what, you say? Google, of course!
By the way, do you know what the original name of Google was when it started in 1996? Answer: Back Rub — due to the search engine's unique ability to analyze "back links" pointed to a given website.
(Editor's note: Since Mrs. Harris is busy looking for suitable places to wine and dine (on her dime), I'm going to write this editorial comment for her. I officially quit as guest columnist. If and when I re-enter the wonderful world of journalism (alas, maybe next week) I want to be known as Foremost Freelance Writer because relevant to my salary there is an emphasis on free.