The Most Intelligent Thing I Didn’t Say

by Curt Kovener

In the newspaper business, I occasionally hear, “ I was misquoted. I didn’t say that.” Frequently it comes after someone says something foolish or without sufficient thought, his/her words appear in print, and not wanting to fess up, claims the newspaper got it wrong.
It’s not an affliction unique to newspaper people. I suppose we all mishear, misunderstand and many miss the point entirely from time to time.
So for all you folks who have accurate hearing and photo recall, here’s a quiz of some all-too-familiar sounding quotes, and (before reading each following paragraph) you decide if it is correctly quoted.
•“Money is the root of all evil.”
Misquote. In I Timothy we are told “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
•“Pride goeth before a fall.”
Misquote. The book of Proverbs advises us that “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
•“Familiarity breeds contempt.”
Misquote. “Familiarity begets boldness,” according to Shackerley Marmion, who said it first.
•“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
Misquote. Correctly quoted it is “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”
•“Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him well.”
Misquote. It was Shakespeare’s Hamlet who said at his friend’s graveside, “Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.”
•“Home is the hunter.”
Misquote. Robert Louis Stevenson originally said, “Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill.”
•“To gild the lily.”
Misquote. From Shakespeare’s King John speaking about attempting to improve perfection he said, “To gild refined gold, to paint the lily.”
•“Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
Misquote. “It ain’t true, is it, Joe?” said by a young baseball fan to ‘Shoeless Joe’ Jackson, implicated in the Black Sox Scandal.
•“All that glitters is not gold.”
Misquote. “Nor all that glistens, gold.” wrote Thomas Gray.
You see how easy it is to foul up what someone else has said? Take a phrase that trickles smoothly off the tongue, mold, it shape it to your liking or purpose and say it long enough, you too, can misquote.
– – – – – – – –
“A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world.”
–Edmond Goncourt

Color Has Finally Arrived At The Wilderness

by Curt Kovener

Whether it is old school Techni-color® or new school 4K high definition, autumn colors are abundant in the almost area of Jackson County. For the geographically puzzled that the is area that is almost to Lawrence County, almost to Monroe County, almost to Brown County, almost to Bartholomew County and thus almost out of Jackson County.
While tens of thousands of leaf lookers crowded the streets and State Road 46 in Brown County, the autumn color has come to us in Almost.
The early morning and late evening sunlight intensifies the subdued hues of yellows, muted orange and vivid reds and they are all counter-pointed by some still stubborn green leaves.
The drive back the half-mile lane is an ever-changing panorama palate passing by sassafras to maple to oak to yellow poplar and the highlights of red bud, dogwood, and hickory.
The various oak trees that shade the house have been giving up their acorns. Out in the woods this is a quiet natural event. But in the domicile there is the 24-hours a day initial hit of an acorn on the shingles followed by a bounce or two and the audible roll down the roof before a moment of silence and another hit and bounce on the deck.
Leaves accumulate on the rear deck and hide the lurking acorns awaiting a non-shoed foot to step on them resulting in a mildly painful foot jerk reaction. And with shoes it can be like a dangerous walk on marbles. The broom sends the leaves and fruit of the oak to the forest floor and a momentarily clean deck surface.
But the process must be repeated in the next day or two.
Fall brings some passing through feathered critters to the wilderness. There were good-sized ripples on the lake and a stealthy investigation revealed some coots and a pair of wood ducks dining on acorns at the north shallow end of the lake. And as I have already told you, we have a lot of acorns.
Deer like browsing on acorns though they must be stealthy like I was as Emma the Great Pyrenees is outdoors protecting her territory from all intruders. Coyotes, turkey, deer and those illiterate hunters who cannot read (or comprehend the meaning of) No Trespassing signs all get a gruff greeting and a chase by Emma.
There is a bit of conflict between the wilderness pets. Willow the cat likes this time of year as her black and brown tortoise-shell fur is camouflaged by the fallen leaves. And that helps her as she awaits birds that come to feed on the black sunflower seeds we put in the feeder. She considers the bird feeder a baiting station.
The conflict arises when Emma sees those invading seed stealers and rushes to the feeder barking to chase them off. Much to the consternation of Willow the cat.
So I suppose it could be said we have a G-rated action adventure feature in high-def color with surround sound playing now at the wilderness ultra-wide screen.

Thoughts On November

by Curt Kovener

We have begun the month of “no”: no flowers, no fruits, no vegetables, no warm sun…November.
Here are some others’ thoughts on the penultiment month of the year.
“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.” ~Elizabeth Lawrence
“Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.” ~Sara Coleridge
“November comes And November goes,
With the last red berries And the first white snows.
With night coming early, And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket And frost by the gate.
The fires burn And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest Until next spring.”
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth
“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content.” ~Lin Yutang
“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth,
and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?” ~ Hal Borland
“Heap high the farmer’s wintry hoard!
Heap high the golden corn!
No richer gift has Autumn poured
From out her lavish horn!”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
“Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves.” ~ Otsuyu Nakagawa
“Splitting dry kindling on a damp November day are like wind-chimes tinkling.” ~Michael P. Garofalo
“The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on…
A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.”
~ Aldo Leopold
“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable, the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street or road by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.
Both are warnings of chill days ahead, fireside and topcoat weather.” ~ Hal Borland

Conversation Starters, Useless & Otherwise

by Curt Kovener

Next time there is a lull in the conversation, enjoy the brief quiet, the share one of these talking stimulants.
•If you are right handed, you will tend to chew your food on the right side of your mouth. If you are left handed, you will tend to chew your food on the left side of your mouth.
•To make half a pound of honey, bees must collect nectar from over 2 million individual flowers.
•Heroin was the brand name of morphine once marketed by Bayer. And at one time Coca-cola contained cocaine.
•Tourists visiting Iceland should know that tipping at a restaurant is considered an insult!
•People in nudist colonies play volleyball more than any other sport.
•Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952, but he declined.
•Astronauts can’t belch— there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs.
•The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. In the Renaissance era, it was fashion to shave them off.
•The night of January 20 is “Saint Agnes’s Eve”, which is regarded as a time when a young woman dreams of her future husband.
•Google is actually the common name for a number with a million zeros.
•It takes glass one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times.
•Gold is the only metal that doesn’t rust, even if it’s buried in the ground for thousands of years.
•Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.
•If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.
•Each year 2,000,000 smokers either quit smoking or die of tobacco-related diseases.
•Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals
•Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.
•The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.
•Drinking water after eating reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 percent.
•Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn’t smoke unless it’s heated above 450°F.
•The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.
•Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.
•The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of humans.
•Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.
•The University of Alaska spans four time zones.
•The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.
•In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.
•Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
•A comet’s tail always points away from the sun.

I Did Not Mean To Disrespect the Flag …And Maybe You Didn’t Either

by Curt Kovener

If there are not naturally occurring weather crisis, wildfires, hurricane damage assistance, nuclear finger pointing, computer hacking then there are conjured up crisis du jour since January 20.
Now there are a bunch of Washington types, led by the President and VP, with their knickers in a knot because some football players are not standing for the National Anthem. The high profile athletes are not standing as a way to bringing attention to the injustice of the significantly high number of police shootings of black citizens because the victims are not high profile.
Rather than look at the root cause of the high profile player protest, the two elected national leaders who have never served a day in the military, want to talk about disrespecting the flag.
I was taught during my years in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to stand when the flag passes by and for the playing for the National Anthem.
Sometimes that is just not possible.
There are radio stations that will occasionally play a four part harmony version of the Star Spangled Banner. I suppose they do so to show their support for the flag and to be patriotic.
But when listening to the radio driving down the interstate at 70 mph, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to pull over, get out of my truck, and stand while traffic goes whizzing by wondering what is wrong with me. They probably are not listening to the radio but talking on their phones or texting or tweeting.
Then there are those pickup trucks with the American and Confederate flags affixed to their pick up beds driving about. Like the professional football player, they are expressing their right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. The flag maybe passing by me but I cannot safely stand with a semi filling my rearview mirror.
And— an embarassing confession— there have been times I have been caught in the men’s room before an athletic event. I was standing when the anthem was being played, but not at attention. At least not in that way. Perhaps the President would say I should have planned better but I know my bladder better than he does, I think.
The appearance of disrespecting the flag is a non-negotiable point with members of the VFW and American Legion. I get that. They served this country in one of the branches of service.
Back on the home front, I was the director of the Crothersville Red, White & Blue Festival for 16 years…a festival which is billed as “Indiana’s Most Patriotic Festival.” I have served what is equivalent to four presidential terms to promote a lot of red, white & blue flag waving. All the while having served as much time in the military as our Commander in Chief and his second in command.
It was also during my youthful scouting days that respect for the flag was taught.
But even today as I drive about the community and the county I see people disrespecting the flag. Atop a number of flag poles in the front yards & in front of businesses I pass are flags that are no longer red, white & blue but pink, gray and in tatters by the wind, rain and neglect. Flags that long ago should have been exchanged for new ones and those that are past their service respectfully and ceremonially incinerated.
Maybe Vice President Pence gets more national exposure for walking out of a football game when some opposing team players took a knee (the President takes credit saying he told him to do it). But wouldn’t it have more meaning if on his next trip back to his home state that convoy of armored black SUVs with tinted windows pulled into the driveway of a tatter, faded flag waver to shame them for disrespecting the flag?
Don’t worry. It won’t happen. By the time you are reading this there will be yet another crisis du jour to distract us from the important stuff.

Some Of Life’s Confounding Questions

by Curt Kovener

Now that I am a member of the gray hair and Medicare Club, I have been around long enough to compile some perplexing and confounding questions on the world in which we live.
I’m not talking about ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ or ‘Does the Universe have an end? And if it doesn’t, Why?’ or ‘Why are all areas of government from federal to Indiana to Jackson County controlled by the GOP and still we can’t all get along?’
No, I am talking about the important stuff of life like…
•Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
•If a word is misspelled in a dictionary, how would we ever know?
•If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
•Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack? And how do we get back in to whack?
•Why do ‘tug’ boats push their barges?
•Why do they sing ‘Take me out to the ball game’, when they are already there?
•Why are they called ‘stands’ when they’re made for sitting?
•Why is it called ‘after dark’, when it is really after light?
•Doesn’t ‘expecting the unexpected’ make the unexpected expected?
•Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
•Why is phonics not spelled the way it sounds?
•If work is so terrific, how come they have to pay you to do it?
•If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
•Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?
•Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
•Why is bra singular and panties plural?