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Cosmic Quote(s) #41

“You’re on earth.  There’s no cure for that.”–Samuel Beckett

“We’ve got to reinvest in space travel.  We should have never left the moon.”–Ray Bradbury

“To the moon, Alice!”–Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden on “The Honeymooners”

attribution unknown

Samuel Beckett  clearly never spoke to the cow.  Ray Bradbury should have.  Jackie Gleason obviously did.

(illustration attribution unknown)

 

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Time Out: Harry Baals and Wankard Pooser

This post appears today, under a different title, as my monthly guest post on The Blog of Funny Names.

“I saw a snake having sex with a vulture and, I thought, it’s just business as usual in Washington, DC.”–Jarod Kintz

There may be plenty of snakes and vultures in Washington, DC,  but when it comes to flat out, upfront political lewdness, give me the good old American heartland.  Because the best political names–funny and lewd–are out there in the hinterland.  Consider these two, if you will.

Harry William Baals–(b. Nov. 16., 1886, d. May 9, 1954), was the Republican mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana from 1934-1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954.

Harry Baals.  Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

Harry Baals. Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

The obvious double entendre on  Baals name has been a source of much consternation in his home town.   In the more innocent Ozzie and Harriet climate of the 1950’s, Harry Baals Drive was named after him.  It has since been renamed H.W. Baals drive.   That’s a shame, but it’s still funnier than George H.W. Bush drive.  (There has to be a Bush and Baals joke in there someplace, but you figure it out.)

More recently,  in 2011,  the city of Fort Wayne held an online vote to name its new government center, and the public overwhelmingly voted for The Harry Baals Government Center–in fact, more then ten times as many votes as any other name.   The horrified city fathers reneged on the contest and simply named the building Citizen’s Square.  But perhaps the worst slight to the memory of this great man–or at least to his great name–is that his ancestors have taken to pronouncing Baals as Bales.  That’s downright un-American.  They will all be blacklisted immediately on The Blog of Funny Names.

At any rate,  Baals died from a kidney infection during his final term in office.  You can only surmise if it might have been brought on by scratching–well, you know.

Wankard Pooser–(b. Sept. 27, 1893, d. Feb. 22, 1978), was a firebrand in the Florida state legislature in the 1940’s.  Pooser was elected to the first of his two terms in 1945, apparently on the merits of his sole campaign promise, which was to vote against every single bill put before the legislature while in office.   He lived up to that promise in his first term, though that did not stop him from introducing a bill, which was a proposal for an amendment to the state constitution to abolish the legislature.   He suggested that by transferring all of the legislature’s powers to the governor, much time and money would be saved.  You’ve got to love a politician who proposed to outlaw politicians!  Unfortunately for Pooser, the amendment went nowhere, as did his subsequent political path.  In his second term he broke his “all no votes” promise–just one single time–and promptly lost his seat when he ran for a third term.  Undeterred, he attempted a comeback in 1952.  He lost.  One can only conclude that his given name appropriately described his career.  (If you don’t get it,  look up the definition of the British slang term “wank.”)

It seems that the national Republican party of that era missed out on one of the greatest photo ops of all time.  If these two had been at the top of their 1948 presidential ticket, that famous newspaper headline might have read Wankard and Baals defeat Truman!

dewey truman

 

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Cosmic Quote #40

“I have a problem with religion or anything else that says ‘we have all the answers.’ We’re complex, we change our minds on issues all the time.  Religion leaves no room for human complexity.”–Daniel Radcliffe

Harry_Potter_14yrsMy head says he’s right, but my heart is broken.  I always thought Harry Potter had all the answers.  The moral of this story?  Never trust anyone with “The Mark of Zorro” on his forehead.

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Time Way Out: The Jug Handle State

“I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”–Woody Allen

This is a summer rerun.   It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I’m in the midst of three days stuck in the so called “Garden State” on business, and I thought, “why shouldn’t I share the pain?”

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

I have spent the lion’s share of my adult life working in the pharmaceutical industry.   To be precise, I sell goods and services to pharmaceutical companies.  This is a difficult profession, for it entails enduring one of the most hair raising trials-by-fire in any known line of of work.

I have to drive in New Jersey. 

Unfortunately, due to the high concentration of  pharma companies in the so-called Garden State, I have to drive there often.  At least, I try to.  I sometimes think it would be easier to run in quicksand.  It has taken me 15 minutes, on one occasion, just to cross the street.  I have been 20 minutes late in getting to a location less than a mile away–not because there was a lot of traffic–but because I was pointed the wrong way on Route 22 and the nearest jug handle turnaround was three miles and seven traffic lights in the wrong direction.

It all started away back in the mid-1980’s.  I was driving for the first time to Sandoz in East Hanover.  As I approached my target on Route 10 from the west, there majestically high on hill to my right towered a high-rise with large block letters S-A-N-D-O-Z emblazoned across the top floor.  Brilliant!  I found it and I was on time.  I drove past an intersection, turned right into a parking lot and pulled up to a security gate to register for my sales appointment.

“Sorry sir, this is the service entrance, you need to go to the visitors center at the main gate.”

“Huh? Where’s that?”

The guard pointed to the intersection that I had just passed.  No problem, I was 10 minutes early for my appointment.   All I needed to do was pull out of the security area and turn left.  There was just one problem.  Between me and the traffic going in the other direction was something that looked like the Berlin Wall–complete with barbed wire and machine gun turrets.  It was then that I learned about jug handle turns.  You see, New Jersey has it’s own laws of physics.  In New Jersey, you have to turn right to turn left.  Understanding quantum mechanics is easy compared to understanding traffic patterns in New Jersey.

So I continued in the wrong direction on route 10 until I came to the first jug handle turn; I think this was somewhere near Bangor, Maine.  I came back to the original intersection I had missed, only to find there was no left turn allowed there, either.  This required me to go to the next jug handle, just outside of Allentown, PA.  Needless to say, I was late for my appointment.

It all boils down to this.  Other states have freeways, expressways and thruways; in New Jersey they have no-ways. Once you get on, there is no way to get off.  You have to drive to Delaware to turn around.**    There is one good thing about all of this, though. Here where I live in Connecticut, all the country roads in the woods can be confusing, particularly at night.  In a strange area it is easy to drive around in circles if you don’t have a GPS.   But in New Jersey, you don’t need a GPS to know you have gone wrong.  When you miss your turn in Jersey your whole life starts passing in front of you.   By now I have lived more lives than a cat.

**This literally did happen to me once, though it was actually in southeastern Pennsylvania, which has obviously been mapped out by the same civil engineers that designed New Jersey.  I was on a limited access connecting road and missed my exit.  In order to turn around, I had to drive six miles to the end of the connector–which was in Delaware!

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Cosmic Quote #39

“If god had meant us to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.”–Mike Ditka

www.cartonstock.com used by permission

http://www.cartonstock.com used by permission

If god had meant us to spend this much time online, we would have been born with a modem.   Personally, soccer sort of bores me.  I can’t wait for the world cup to be over so I can go back to being bored watching baseball, tennis and golf.

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Timeout: Hayden Siddhartha Finch and Joe Shlabotnik

This post also appears today under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

 “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.”–Mark Twain

With Minor League Baseball’s annual Moniker Madness competition just a few weeks away,  what better time to investigate and recount the stories of two of the most curious names in baseball history?   Not only are the names unusual, but the stories more so, because neither of them ever actually existed.

Sidd Finch.  He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Sidd Finch. He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Hayden Siddhartha “Sidd” Finch (Born and Died, April 1, 1985)  is to baseball what Piltdown Man is to anthropology–the most famous hoax ever recorded.  Concocted by iconic sports author George Plimpton as an April Fools day prank for the April, 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated,  Finch was touted as a super rookie pitcher with the New York Mets.  According to the incredible story–a bit too incredible to get many people to believe it–Finch grew up in an orphanage in Tibet where he learned meditation, yoga and to play the French horn.   Supposedly he had never played baseball before his tryout in Mets spring camp that year but could pitch the ball an astounding 168mph without warming up and while wearing only one shoe with the other foot bare.   It was reported that he was still undecided between a career as a professional baseball player or professional  French horn player. I remember this story vividly, because one of my best friends called me and urged me to get a copy of Sports Illustrated and read the story.   The company I worked for at the time had front season box seats at Shea Stadium for the Mets;  my friend thought I would fall for the story and get really psyched to get a good close up look at this guy.  It didn’t work; I  was not buying it.   From the beginning, something didn’t seem right.  The pictures didn’t feel genuine; they appeared staged.  Then I got to the 168 mph fastball.  I’m an ex-sportscaster and major baseball aficionado–I stopped right there.  The fastest

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

pitch ever officially recorded at that time was 103mph (since surpassed by current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman at 105 mph).  I don’t care if the guy had a Howitzer for a right arm, there is no way any human being was going to pitch near that fast.  I turned the front page, looked at the issue date, and said “April Fools.” Ironically, that 1985 Mets team had no need of a Sidd Finch.   Their real super rookie pitcher, Dwight Gooden, had won NL Rookie of the Year award the previous season.  He proceeded to win the NL Cy Young award in 1985 and helped lead the Mets to their best season in history in 1986: 108 wins and a World Series championship.  The only sad thing about this story?  The current Mets probably couldn’t win with five Sidd Finches.

Good 'ol Charlie Brown

Good ‘ol Charlie Brown

Joe Shlabotnik (b.??-d??) was the favorite player of the most famous fictional baseball fan in the history of the universe:  Charlie Brown.  Joe Shlabotnik, in the “Peanuts” world, was to CharlieBrownFootballbaseball, as that infamous failed place kick was to football.  It was Lucy’s ultimate diss of Charlie.  Though Joe was a marginal player who spent most of his time in the minors, Charlie pined for his baseball card but could never get it.  On one occasion in the early 1960’s he squandered $5.00 on 500 penny packs of cards, and did not get one single Joe Shlabotnik.  Lucy then bought one pack, got a Shlabotnik but refused to trade it to Charlie Brown, even for the offer of all those hundreds of penny packs.  Charlie walked away in disgust, and Lucy proceeded to throw Joe in the trash.  “He’s not as cute as I thought,” she opined. With names like Zealous Wheeler, Jose Jose, and 2013 winner Sicnarf Loopstok, we’ve often commented that Minor League Baseball’s Moniker Madness has names that you couldn’t possibly make up.  Well, maybe, but George Plimpton and Charles Schulz might have had something to say about that.

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