Friday, May 30, 2008

Notable Deaths in 2008, Complete Thru May

May 30 - Harvey Korman, 81, American actor and comedian best- known for long-running role on "The Carol Burnett Show" on TV. Korman also had a fun role in Mel Brooks' western farce "Blazing Saddles"

May 26 - Sydney Pollack, 73, American film director whose most famous movies include "Tootsie", "The Way We Were" and "Out of Africa". Pollack also took small parts in many films, including some of his own. His work as Dustin Hoffman's agent in "Tootsie" was terrific.

May 24 - Dick Martin, 86, American comedian best known as co-host (the one without the pipe) of the "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" TV show in the 1960s. I loved Laugh-In when I was a kid. Stupid as it was, there was nothing else like it on television - do you remember "The Farkles"?

May 20 - Hamilton Jordan, 63, American politician, President Jimmy Carter's chief of staff. It's hard to believe he was 63 when he died. Arithmetic calculates that Jordan was just 32 years old when he was put in charge of President Carter's White House staff.

May 8 - Eddy Arnold, 89, American country singer. My wife might have more to say about Arnold. I know him mainly from TV record offers that I didn't respond to.

May 3 - Eight Belles, 3, thoroughbred race horse, euthanized on the track after breaking down at the Kentucky Derby. Being a thoroughbred race horse is a dangerous job.

May 1 - Buzzy Bavasi, 93, American baseball executive for the Dodgers, Angels and Padres. I'm not sure if Bavasi was still with the Dodgers when I visited Dodger Stadium in 1986, but if so, thanks for a great place to watch a ballgame.

April 17 - Danny Federeci, 58, keyboardist for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Pianist Roy Bittan's solos may be more memorable, but Federici's organ and synthesizer work played a major part in the E Street Band's big sound. Listen to "Jungleland" for some of his best.

April 5 - Charlton Heston, 83, American actor best known for starring in "Ben Hur" and for a five-year term as president of the National Rifle Association. Perhaps now they'll be able to pry his gun from his cold, dead fingers, or more likely he was buried with it.

March 30 - Dith Pran, 65, Cambodian journalist, survivor of "The Killing Fields". I'm sorry to hear of the death of this courageous man.

March 19 - Sir Arthur C. Clarke, 90, British author of "2001: A Space Odyssey" and other science fiction works. Stanley Kubrick's film version was the movie ever to enthrall me. It still does, I think.

February 27 - Myron Cope, 79, Pittsburgh-based sportswriter responsible for popularizing the "Terrible Towel," a fan behavior which spawned towel-waving all across the NFL stadiums for the next 30+ years. The trend hasn't been limited to towels or football, as Minnesota Twins' fans waved their "Homer Hankies" back in the '80s. My daughter would probably comment, "How wimpy is that!"

February 27 - William F. Buckley, 82, American writer and commentator, icon of conservative political thought. My earliest recollection of Buckley is his bickering with Gore Vidal as part of the coverage of political conventions in the '60s and '70s. These days we get Democrat James Carville and his Republican wife.

February 10 - Roy Scheider, 75, American actor most famous for role as village police chief in Jaws. On a very much side note, the "Jaws" attraction at the Universal theme park in Orlando was by far my favorite.

February 2 - Ed Vargo, 79, retired major league baseball umpire

January 27 - Gordon Hinckley, 97, President of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

January 27 - Suharto, 86, dictatorial Indonesian President from 1967-1998.

January 22 - Heath Ledger, 28, Australian actor nominated for Academy Award for Brokeback Mountain. My daughter, who saw Ledger's other films (A Knight's Tale in particular) was heartbroken to hear of Ledger's death.

January 19 - Suzanne Pleshette, 70, American actress best known for playing Emily Hartley, wife of Bob Newhart's psychologist character on "The Bob Newhart Show." I enjoyed Pleshette and this show during its six-year run--most of the time following the classic "All in the Family." (photo of Pleshette at 1991 Emmy Award ceremony)

January 17 - Bobby Fischer, 64, American, former chess prodigy and world chess champion, died in Reykjavik, Iceland. After beating Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union to break the Russian stranglehold on the world chess championship, Fischer lived in seclusion for most of the second half of his life. During this time, he renounced his American citizenship and became a virulent anti-Semite. Fischer's rise to the world chess championship sparked my very brief interest in chess in 1972. (photo by Heinz Ducklau/AP)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Word Plays

Here's a list of unfamiliar words I've learned playing Scrabble. I downloaded a new tool, Zzyzyva, that includes anagrams, lists, and definitions for all the words (up to 15 letters) that are playable in Scrabble. Here's a short (and probably incomplete) list of new words I've learned since the Baton Rouge tournament in November 2007. As I learn new words, I'll add them to the top of the list.

RUGOSA - keep your toupee in place with RUGOSA - an extinct tribe of fossil corals, many of them or large size, characteristic of Paleozoic formations.

BINAURAL - an audio system based on two states - can hear and can't hear - having two ears (adj)

HAFFITS - clothing that only fits halfway--e.g. long enough, but not big enough around - the vertical side of a dormer (from architecture)

BRULYIE - a long-term resident of Brusly, LA - a noisy quarrel

PENNON - apply directly to the writing implement - a pennant

ARMIGEROS - MREs for the Lebanese army - one who carries the armor of a knight (pl)

OBOVATE - to bloviate on an oboe - ovate with a narrow end at the base (adj.)

PYGIDIUM - rare element found only in pygmies - the posterior region of certain invertebrates

TUYER - Bostonian toast - a pipe through which air is forced into a blast furnace (also TUYERE)

CAHIER - cashier with empty register - a notebook

DAIMIO - egocentric calypso song - a former Japanese nobleman

BORNITE - anxious awaiter of next Matt Damon thriller - an ore of copper

CORBAN - nuclear plant shutdown order - an offering to God.

SODALITE - connossieur of diet soft drinks - a mineral

BOURRIDE - a drunken trip to a bourre game - a fish stew.

BOWSING - browsing without reading - hauling by means of tackle

JENNET - paparazzi technique for capturing Jennifer Anniston - a small horse

ENDOSARC - a portion of a cell

DIOECY - the state of being DIOICOUS (unisexual)

XYSTER - a surgical instrument for scraping bones

ASHLARED - to build with squared stones - these next six words came from one session with a 1900-ish expert who's recently relocated to Baton Rouge.

MODISTE - a dealer in stylish women's clothing

MEDUSA(E) - a jellyfish

IGNATIA - a medicinal seed

PERIANTH - the outer covering of a flower

GHARRI - (also GHARRY) a carriage used in India, (pl - GHARRIS or GHARRIES)

MENINX - any of the membranes enclosing the brain and spinal cord (pl -MENINGES) - back to my online vocabulary building opponent.

TWIGGEN - made of twigs (adj)

SHNORRER (also SCHNORRER) - a scrounger who takes advantage of the generosity of others (Yiddish)

BOYARD - A member of a Russian aristocratic order abolished by Peter the Great. Also, one of a privileged class in Roumania.

MACLE - twinned crystal

SEMPLICE - simple, unaffected (musical direction)

WOORARI - curare (used as arrow poison), also WOORALI

VIMEN - flexible shoot of a plant

STATICE - herb with astringent qualities

JABIRU(S) - a large stork of tropical America (wood ibis)

SOLDI - a former coin of Italy - I learned this one at the North American Scrabble Tour qualifying tournament in Baton Rouge today. I finished second out of 18 players to qualify for the big tourney in Minnesota in June. Don't know if I'll make that trip. Still it was fun to compete, succeed and take home a few bucks.

More from online play

PETTO - the breast - plural is PETTI

ARACEOUS - belonging to the arum family of plants (adj.) - I was proud to win the game where this one was played against me.

DEEWAN - an official in India (also DEWAN)

OCREA - a sheathing plant part (pl - OCREAE)

HALBERT or HALBERD - axelike weapon of the 15th/16th century.

RENIGGED - reneged - I played this one hoping it was good.

SEWAN or SEAWAN - shell beads used as money by Native Americans; wampum

CONGOU - Chinese black tea

KEVEL - bollard of a ship

VIGIA(S) - a navigational hazard whose existence is uncertain

CORONEL - a wreath worn on the head (also CORONAL) - I would have won an online game if I'd found this word to go out.

WHEEPLED - gave forth a prolonged whistle

GUIPURE - a type of lace

NOTORNIS - a flightless bird of New Zealand.

FRISEE - the curly leaves of endive - I was happy to discover this word as it allowed me to hook ZONER to FRISE for 77 points. (1/30/08 Note - I ate some of this in a Houston restaurant last night)

CROSSE - a lacrosse stick - never knew that word had an E, but it makes sense - lacrosse

TOPOI - plural of TOPOS, a stock rhetorical theme

SEISIN - the possession of such an estate in land as was anciently thought worthy to be held by a free man

FILOSE - resembling a thread (adj)

FURRINER - a foreigner

MIRIN - a sweet Japanese cooking wine

LEVULIN - a chemical compound

BIOGENY - the development of life from preexisting life

THARM - the belly

BOLIDE - an exploding meteor

PROTEIDE or PROTEID - a protein

DONSY or DONSIE - unlucky (adj). I was unlucky enough to lose a game when my opponent played DONSY to go out.

MELILITE - a mineral group. I could have won a game if I knew this word, or could find the easier TILELIKE.

BALLIES - plural of BALLY, a noisy uproar. Is that where the casino chain got its name?

ANANKE - a compelling necessity in ancient Greek religion. I wonder if this concept or word will surface in the current Presidential election campaign, which has included a lot of discussion about religious necessities.

MOFETTE - a noxious emanation from a fissure in the earth. If I learned this in earth science in 9th grade, I forgot it.

SIRRA - sirrah (a form of address used to inferiors) I'm guessing this is of Anglo-Indian origin

LUTEA - plural of LUTEUM, a hormone-secreting body

TUTELAR - one who has the power to protect (also TUTELARY)

TWANGLER - one who twangles (twangs) (Makes sense, but I never would have guessed it to be a word.)

SOLITON - a solitary wave in physics

AMIDIN - the soluble matter in starch (I recognized this word, but didn't know what it meant)

ROUSSEAU - fried pemmican (yum!)

STRANG - strong (adj) - I'm guessing that this is one of those Scottish variations.

IRISING - from the verb to IRIS, to give the form of a rainbow to (I'm about to win an online game where my opponent played this word for 91 points)

HIJAB - a head covering worn by Muslim women (pl -S)

IRITISES - plural of IRITIS, inflammation of the iris. IRITISE* is unplayable (I lost an online game because I couldn't find this word)

AMATORY - pertaining to sexual love (adj.)

ALULA - a tuft of feathers on the first digit of a bird's wing (pl - LAE) (I even got to play this one soon after I learned it)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jesus and Football

Over at I posted a picture of two paintings I saw side-by-side on the wall of Arzi's Restaurant in Baton Rouge. When I took the shot and noted that such an arrangement would only be seen in Baton Rouge, I also thought, "this would make a good song." Well, here are the paintings and the song. You can decide how good the song is.

Jesus and Football
By dadlak

In a local Lebanese restaurant
On the wall above our booth
I saw three shepherds quaking,
And a tiger with a very long tooth.
The shepherds they were dazzled
By the light from a faraway star.
Giant tiger climbed out of a stadium
Threatening a hundred parked cars.


Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Crosses along I-10
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Coach’ s pearly-gated mansion
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Our saviors; the holiest two
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
All you need to know ‘bout Baton Rouge.


The tiger’s eyes were shining
At the thought of opponent’s blood
In his ears, the cheers were ringing
Tiger bait would be his food.
A shepherd knelt beside a white lamb
The mighty tiger roared
The gathered eyes were awestruck
As they gazed upon the face of their lord


Could it be the second coming?
Could the star denote the one?
It certainly wasn’t Nick Satan
Les Miles is God’s true son.


Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Worship seven and half past ten
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Pray for a touchdown again
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Our saviors, the holiest two
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
All you need to know ‘bout Baton Rouge

Repeat Chorus

Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Our legislature plays the game
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
We bow at the coach’s name
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
Our saviors, the holiest two
Jesus and football
Jesus and football
All you need to know ‘bout Baton Rouge
Where have you gone, Ryan Perilloux?
Ah - men