Monday, September 15, 2014

On this occasion of Prince Harry’s 30th birthday is breathlessly reporting to the world that Prince Harry is not his real name.

If you’re not shocked, I suppose thinks you should be.

Harry’s real name is Henry Charles Albert David.

Here endeth the reading from -- the remainder of this post is of my own making.

Eight kings of England were named Henry and two were named Charles, but they were not part of the House of Windsor-Mountbatten neé Windsor neé Saxe-Coburg-Gotha neé Hanover.

However, Charles (the current Prince of Wales, whose full name is Charles Philip Arthur George) is Harry’s father; Albert was (a) what the family called King George VI (Harry’s great-grandfather) and (b) Queen Victoria’s husband (Harry's great-great-great-great grandfather) ; and David was what the family called King Edward VIII (Harry’s great-great uncle) .

[Editor’s note. Whoopi Goldberg’s family called her Karen, but that fact has nothing to do with this post. --RWP]

On this auspicious occasion, I thought I would share with you the full names of several current and former members of the British royal family.

Prince William (the Duke of Cambridge) is William Arthur Philip Louis. His little son, thanks to Kate Middleton, is George Alexander Louis.

William’s and Harry’s father’s siblings are Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise (the Princess Royal) , Andrew Albert Christian Edward (the Duke of York) , and Edward Antony Richard Louis (the Earl of Wessex).

Isn't this fun???

William’s and Harry’s grandmama, Queen Elizabeth II, is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

George VI was Albert Frederick Arthur George.

Edward VIII was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

George V was George Frederick Ernest Albert. His wife (Queen Mary) was Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes.

Edward VII was Albert Edward. His wife (Queen Alexandra) was Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia.

Queen Victoria was Alexandrina Victoria. Her husband (Prince Albert) was Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel.

I find all of this utterly fascinating.

And now for the big finish, the pièce de résistance, the sine qua non.

William’s and Harry’s grandpapa, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip is -- wait for it -- Philip.

All of this must mean something, but I’ll be darned if I know what.

Carry on, monarchists.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dinosaurs of the world, unite

One way to tell you’re becoming a dinosaur is when changes occur in the language and you do not keep pace with them. In fact, mes amies, you are downright determined to keep to the old (translation: correct) ways.

Dinosaurs, as we all know, eventually become extinct and no trace of them is left on planet Earth except the occasional fossil found by an enterprising paleontologist.

Which reminds me that my daughter reported this conversation with her 13-year-old son the other day on the drive home from school:

“Mama,” said the 13-year-old, “is it possible to know when a pterodactyl goes to the bathroom?”

“I have no idea,” my daughter said. “Is it?”

He replied, “No, ma’am...because the P is silent.”

Which proves that although language may change, 13-year-old boys never do.

However, language changes so slowly that no one notices what is happening until suddenly no one speaks Anglo-Saxon any more. Except J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, and he is dead.

My current pet peeve (and I hope it is occurring just in America and not throughout the entire English-speaking world) has to do with the past tense of the verb (or rather, the infinitive) to sneak.

Forty years ago the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked”.

Twenty-five years ago the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked non-standard snuck”.

Ten years ago the the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked informal snuck”.

Today, says the past tense of sneak is “sneaked or snuck”.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

At one time, correct word usage was determined by what educated people said. Nowadays, you don’t have to be educated. Anything goes.

I for one will never say snuck. Accordingly, I will soon be extinct myself.

One more thing: Despite what millions of Americans say every single day, drug is not the past tense of drag.

It’s dragged, people. Dragged.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


What’s better than an old Queen-sized bed?

A brand-new Queen-sized bed, of course!

And what’s even better than a brand-new Queen-sized bed?

I’ll tell you what is even better than a brand-new Queen-sized bed.

A brand-new King-sized bed, that’s what.

So we had one delivered yesterday!

The only problem is that in addition to buying a brand-new King-sized bed we also had to buy a brand-new King-sized mattress and a brand-new King-sized mattress cover and brand-new King-sized sheets and pillow cases and a brand-new King-sized bedspread with multiple matching and contrasting pillows, and brand-new matching curtains and valences as well.

Here is the new bed (the curtains had not yet been put up) :

As a result, I am currently suffering from that old Italian disease, mafunzalo. If I wanted to go somewhere on an exotic vacation like, say, the Canary Islands, I would have to swim to get there.

When your funzalo, remember what Dolly Levi’s suitor, Horace Van Der Gelder, said in Hello, Dolly!: “Money is like manure; it doesn’t do any good unless you spread it around.”

[Editor’s note. Dolly’s late husband, Ephraim Levi, also used to say that very thing, and when Horace said it, Dolly knew it was a sign that they should marry (Horace and Dolly I mean, not Horace and Ephraim) . But I digress. --RWP]

In other news, the eldest of our six grandchildren left last week for his first year in college about an hour and a half from home. He will be followed in each of the next five years, not necessarily to the same college, by our remaining grandchildren until, finally, in 2020, there will be no more grandchildren of ours leaving for college.

Mrs. RWP has decided to observe this great migration by crocheting one afghan a year using the new school colors of each grandchild. She is about halfway through the first one at present. Here is a close-up view of the left half of the work in progress (the right half is a mirror image of the left half) :

As Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live, “It’s always something.”

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Somewhere, Edward Gibbon is making notes

JEFFERSON (1776): We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

LINCOLN (1863): It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

FDR (1933): The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

JFK (1961): Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

REAGAN (1981): In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

REAGAN (1987): Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

CLINTON (1998): I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

OBAMA (2014): I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Inquiring minds want to know: How green was my valley?

Thanks to (a) John F. Kemeny, the 35th President of the U.S.A., (b) Yorkshire Pudding, the most pixilated pixie ever, (c) the wonderful internet, and (d) the comments section of my last post, I have now been made aware of the Brague National Park in the Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France. I already knew about the Brague winery and the Brague River, but to learn of a national park is, how do you say, an extra added bonus (an uber-redundancy if there ever was one) .

And not only that, I have also just learned that the Brague River includes the Brague Valley River Walk. Take time to read the charming description of its loveliness by someone whose first language was definitely not English. If you ever go there, remember to “walk downhill progressively until the river of which the path goes along the left edge of the river” and to “enjoy numerous landscapes and cool areas” and to ”follow the way, passby the House of the nature. Take left the track, and the road which leads to Valbonne by the Graveyard”.

Leaving aside the fact that anywhere Yorkshire Pudding is would be, by definition, a cool area, I think one should always walk uphill conservatively and downhill progressively. Unless it’s the other way round. I can never keep that straight.

I am also confused as to whether it is “Feed a cold, starve a fever” or “Starve a cold, feed a fever” and I would appreciate any help I can get from you wonderful people out there in the dark a reliable source.

Because a lot of what you can find on the internet isn’t true, especially if it’s in Wikipedia.

Most of all, I think Yorkshire Pudding should print down a copy of the directions for the Brague Valley River Walk (9.8km, 3 hrs) and hie himself, camera in tow, off to that particular Gallic hinterland, and then publish a blogpost that would highlight for all of us some of those numerous landscapes and cool areas.

Don’t you agree?

Friday, August 22, 2014

No, never would I leave you at all

Many years ago I read the book Man and the Computer by John Kemeny, a professor of mathematics who later became president of Dartmouth University. Near the beginning of the book he wrote, “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.”

It is a statement that sticks in the mind.

Fast forward (now there’s an obsolete phrase) to today.

You can learn the most amazing things on the internet. You can also learn (contrary to popular opinion among the intelligentsia) the most amazing things on television. If you combine watching television with searching the internet (a sort of marriage as well) , the result can also be a force beyond calculation.

Case in point.

Mrs. RWP and I were watching the highly educational television program Judge Judy this afternoon, and I remarked that the defendant in one case looked a lot like Robert Goulet.

“Whatever happened to him?” asked Mrs. RWP.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I can’t remember whether he is still alive.”

Because I don’t like to leave loose ends hanging, I decided to do the only sensible thing and find out. I went to the computer and googled “Robert Goulet” and discovered that Robert Goulet is not still alive. He died in 2007 about a month before what would have been his 74th birthday.

What absolutely floored me in the article I was reading was that early in his career Robert Goulet had been a member of the cast of the Canadian version of Howdy Doody and not only that, he starred opposite -- wait for it -- William Shatner.

Would I lie to you?

Yes, Virginia, there was a Canadian version of Howdy Doody. It ran on CBC from 1954 until 1959. Instead of a host named Buffalo Bob, however, it had a host named Timber Tom (sounds more Canadian, eh?) . Robert Goulet played the part of Trapper Pierre; William Shatner played the part of Ranger Bob.

As Jack Paar might say, I kid you not.

Talk about being gobsmacked.

One other thing. In one of Robert Goulet’s biggest hits, “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot, he promised he wouldn’t leave us* in springtime, summer, winter, or fall (2:11) .

He lied. He left us in the fall. October 30, 1977, to be exact.

I know, I know. I’m easily entertained.

Man and the computer.

John Kemeny would be so proud.

*okay, it was Julie Andrews

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fifty years ago this week (August 26 to be exact)

The Perfect Nanny
by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

Wanted: A nanny for two adorable children

If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts
Play games, all sorts

You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets

Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water

If you won’t scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won’t hide your spectacles
So you can’t see
Put toads in your bed
Or pepper in your tea

Hurry, Nanny!
Many thanks

Jane and Michael Banks

The rest is, as they say, history.