20/20 BEHINDSIGHT

When the world ends, I want to be in Cincinnati because it’s always 20 years behind the times. –Mark Twain

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Today being the 20th day of the month, and me being a Cincinnatian of long standing (and other less upright positions), what better time than now and what better person than your humble scribe to put history in context with 20/20 hindsight, and delve into stuff you need to know. Why? You don’t want to go out as an ignoramus when the world comes to an end (20 years sooner for you than me), do you?

Starting with the basics, are you aware of the etymology of  the word TWENTY? It’s from ye olde English twënig (literally “two tens”). I hope you agree that lacking this knowledge makes it evident that your imagination was in need of intellectual stimulation. For example, now you should be able to see how much more memorable Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address could have been had it begun: Four twënigs and seven years ago….

Speaking of “two tens,” by counting the letters of the alphabet on the digits of your two meat hooks twice, you will find (unless you’re missing a finger) that the twënigth letter is T, which may come in handy in situations where you wouldn’t want to take off your stinky shoes and socks (not that counting on your toes is anything to be ashamed of).

Moving on as I sit on my behind, there was once a quiz show on radio and TV titled TWENTY QUESTIONS, based on an old-timey traditional game called TWËNIG QUESTIONS. While I am not quite ancient enough to give eyewitness to the latter, I was around in the 1950s when the former appeared weekly (or weakly, if you had bad reception) on the DuMont Television Network. If you are too dilatory to have been around at that time, here’s a DuMontstration of what you missed:

I could go on, but my vast research team and I don’t want to feed you more knowledge than you can digest at one sitting. Tune in again May 25, when (if I feel like it) I shall once again attempt to enlighten you with more of same. Remember, you heard it here last, because we are committed, and you can be too.

 

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OF LOVERS AND LEAPERS

On Leap Day (Feb. 29), according to an ancient Irish custom, a woman is permitted to propose to a man, who must accept, or pay a penalty. Thus, being of part-Irish descent, my thoughts this day turn — or should I say, leap— to love. Ah, L’AMOUR! Ah, LAMOUR (Dorothy Lamour, that is — she of silver screen memory and part-Irish descent). Sure, and I  still don’t know why she didn’t propose to this dear boy back in those saronged “ROAD” movie days, being as close as the first row of the darkened theater, and I only 22 years younger than she. When love dreams have gone so cruelly unrequited, ’tis THE END OF THE WORLD — one might just as well d(r)ive off a suitable cliff. For example:

Click LOVE ROCKS

Now, if I were a cynic, I might postulate that the daring young man in the flying machine was under the influence of something more substance-tive than love that didn’t click. But this happened in the hallowed Hannibal of our beloved Mark Twain, who coincidentally wrote of a Lover’s Leap called Maiden’s Rock (named for a beautiful Sioux maiden) in his book LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI….so let us not jump to judgment.

Maiden’s Rock and the Lover’s Leap in Hannibal are, of course, but two of many such sites in America and beyond (including one of legendary leaps from a rocky waterfall on the Glencree River, County Wicklow, Ireland). If your love dreams are on the rocks and you’re thinking of taking the plunge, but don’t know where you’d make the biggest splash,

look here BEFORE YOU LEAP

On a happier note, Feb. 29 is a good day to be born because your birthday only comes around every four years. That may put a serious crimp in the number of birthday presents you get, but who wouldn’t exchange that shortfall for quadruple the longevity? I’ll admit I don’t personally know anyone who’s lived to near age 400, probably because such persons cheat and celebrate their non-leap year birthdays on Feb.28 or March 1. Oh, well — who can blame them for not wanting to depend on Depends for the last 300 years of their lives?

But I do know of some of the statistically 1 in 1461 people born on Feb. 29 — people like Jimmy Dorsey, the 1930s-40s Big Band leader; Dinah Shore, the 1940s band vocalist and 1950s-60s TV & recording star; and Michèle Morgan, a French actress who came to the U.S. when Germany invaded France in 1940, and returned after the war. Though little known outside France, she has the distinction of having played opposite Frank Sinatra in his first starring role in the film Higher and Higher (1943), and she almost landed the female lead in Casablanca opposite Humphrey Bogart, but RKO wouldn’t release her to Warner Bros. for the sum of money offered. She is still with us on this, her 96th birthday.

Should we end where we started, leaving the dashed dreams of life and romance on the precipice, as lamented here by Karen Carpenter (born March 2nd)? Don’t they know it’s THE END OF THE WORLD?

Or, should we get a grip, and tell February 29 to take a flying leap? Forward, March!