In 1976 a good friend of mine died as the result of a heart condition related to smoking cigarettes. He left a wife and four children. He tried to quit smoking, but he couldn’t.
At that time I smoked a pack a day ... at least.
After I left his funeral I went home and vowed to quit, and somehow I did quit even though I did every thing wrong in the process.
You’re not supposed to “quit” in an emotional state, but that is exactly what I did.
I had a wife and two young children. My wife smoked, and she was going to quit, but she never did. She died, but not necessarily because she smoked.
So, the point is that I quit “cold turkey.”
Later, I found out that “cold turkey” doesn’t mean what most people think it means. I looked it up a long time ago, and if I remember correctly the phrase developed in the early 1900s, and it had to do with people who were trying to lose weight.
They would keep some cold turkey in the refrigerator for snacks, if they got hungry. The phrase represents a tapering off, and there are those who say that you cannot stop smoking by tapering off.
And I agree.
You just have to quit. And you have to mean it when you say it to yourself, even though some times you might laugh like a maniac when you say it to yourself.
What I did do was reward myself at the end of every day that I did not smoke.
Usually my reward was food ... every thing from banana pudding to peach ice cream.
Yes, I gained weight, but the ex-smokers I talked to said losing weight was easier than dying from smoking. They were right.
One thing you have to realize is that when you decide to quit smoking you are not just breaking a bad habit.
You are fighting a deadly addiction to nicotine.
When you realize that you are an addict it becomes much more serious.
Smokers are addicts: The addiction is nicotine. This is not a game. This is an addiction that can kill you ... one puff at a time.
Those television commercials put out by the Bureau of Health and Human Services are effective because they are real. Those commercials reminded me of the fact that I would probably be dead had I not quit.
I’m not the picture of health, but I am 79, and I walk a half-mile every day.
And you can save a ton of money if you quit.
Someone sent me this nifty poem -- titled “Dust If You Must” -- via the Internet with the following information:
The poem was attributed to Mrs. Rose Milligan from Lancaster in Lancashire, England. It was first published in the Sept. 15th, 21st edition, of The Lady (magazine) in 1998.
I loved it from the get-go and got permission via e-mail to and from England to run it in A Study of Words. So here it is:
Dust if you must
But wouldn’t it be better?
To paint a picture, or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed?
Ponder the difference between want and need.
Dust if you must
But there is not much time
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish, and life to lead.
Dust if you must,
But the world is out there
With the sun in your eyes,
The wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come round again.
Dust if you must,
But bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go, and go you must,
You, yourself will make more dust.
This poem came to me on facebook, and somehow I lost the name of the person who sent it to me. Please identify yourself, so I can thank you.
This poem has inspired me to include my own attempt at poetry, years ago.
It is titled “Different.”
Day is day, and night is night.
Black is black, and white is white.
False is false, and true is true.
I am me, and you are you.
Now for one of my favorite studies: Studying “Place Names in Alabama” by Virginia O. Foscue, who was a professor in the English Department at The University of Alabama. I think I bought this paperback years ago at a garage sale in Auburn. The copyright date is 1989 byThe University of Alabama Press.
After a few studies you may understand that naming towns was not a science:
ARAB A town in Marshall County that received its name when post office officials mistook the hand written d for a b in the application for a post office to be named Arad for the son of the first postmaster. Locals pronounced it Arab with the accent on the A.
AUBURN Lizzie Taylor, the fiancee of Thomas Harper, son of one of the town’s founders, suggested the name after reading Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village.” (That’s what was the title in the book.)
BALLPLAY Settlement with discontinued post office in Etowah County. Name is said to be the name of the designation of a sport of Indians living here in prehistoric times.
OPELIKA The name Opelikan was recorded when the town was founded in the 1830s. Was respelled as Opelika in 1850, the name of an upper creek town in Coosa Creek, whose designation means “big swamp,” from Creek opilwa (swamp)and lako (big).
SAUGAHATCHEE CREEK Stream rising in Chambers County and flowing into the Tallapoosa River. In Benjamin Hawkins’ “A Sketch of the Creek Country in 1798 and 1799.” Name means Rattle Creek, from Creek sauga (a rattle gourd) and hachi (creek).
If you keep on reading then some of this column might makes sense.
A reader writes:
A while back I got a survey that asked me if I was a liberal or a conservative.
She said I am both -- a fiscal conservative and a social liberal.
The survey, however, demanded an answer: liberal or conservative, so she opted out of taking the survey.
That is the way I feel about things some times. but I never have sense enough to opt out.
It would be wonderful if life or issues were so simple that we could label people as either liberal or conservative. Such problems reflect the way things are some times.
That’s why when people take surveys or polls they should simply ask how people will vote on a particular issue, not whether they are conservative or liberal.
The Associated Press and some newspapers require basic information about surveys or polls before they will report the results, including who is paying for the survey, when was it taken, how was it taken, and what are the sampling errors margin for the poll.
This required information is an effort to include any aspect of the survey or poll that might influence the outcome.
People being surveyed have every right to ask such questions if they get calls from people asking questions.
I remember years ago when I was living in Tuscaloosa that before election day there would always be news stories about how willing voters were to support tax increases for education.
But I noticed that there was seldom any evidence of such support on election day. This, however, is not really what I have on my mind.
It became clear years ago that some people associated with the AEA under the leadership of Paul Hubbert were doing “what had to be done” to gain budget support for public school teachers and for public school administrators.
“What had to be done” included surveys or polls that were favorable to AEA or public education in general.
And “what had to be done” became an open secret: The AEA used its voting power and whatever political might it could muster to improve the pay for school teachers.
Even the political power of the late Gov. George C. Wallace was overcome as Paul Hubbert led the AEA in a surge that established the AEA as the toughest kid on the block.
Years later as things turned out, after I resigned as editorial page editor for the Opelika-Auburn News, I was asked by Don Eddins to write a column for The Auburn Villager, a new weekly in Auburn. Eddins is a lawyer who runs the Villager. He is also the lobbyist for the Alabama Nurses Association.
Some of my fellow codgers warned me that if I agreed to write for The Villager I would be writing columns supporting the AEA, and sometimes I would be writing columns supporting politicians favoring AEA.
With this in mind, I wrote my first five or six columns for The Villager to focus on The Birmingham News series on the questionable ethical practices of Alabama’s Community Colleges. It was a brutal series by The Birmingham News, which later won just about everything for its investigative reporting on the matter.
Eddins never said anything about my columns on The Birmingham News prize winning work. I drew from this that I could write about anything I wanted to write about in The Villager, so I just kept on writing about any thing and every thing I wanted to write about.
My problem was that my health was not really up to par, and then-editor of the Villager, Jacque Kochack, had to clarify some of my sentence structure to make my columns readable.
But the day came when I heard that Eddins had dismissed columnist Bob Mount for criticizing a state senator. This made it easy for me to resign from The Villager, and this is how I wound up, happily so, on the Observer.
None of this column makes all that much sense, but it just came out.
Writing for the Observer has been a pleasure, and has been great therapy for me in my effort to keep on writing.
During the early 1940s, while growing up in Evergreen, deep in the heart of the Piney Woods section, due south from the Black Belt and west from the Wire Grass section, our hot media included newspapers, radio and the movies.
We listened to the radio while getting ready for school, and at night from about 5:30 to 10.
Radio comedians included Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy and Bob & Ray.
Jack Benny always told jokes about being tight with money. Evergreen’s downtown crowd, just coming out of the depression, loved Benny.
His signature joke had to do with being confronted by a mugger who demanded: “Your money or your life.” Long pause, then an impatient “well?” from the mugger. Then Benny: “I’m thinking, I’m thinking.”
I remember vividly how the comedians got stuck on the subject of women drivers, and the reason I remember this so well is that Mom did most of the driving for our family.
She was an excellent driver, and eventually taught me how to drive.
The reason I want to expand on this is that when Mom was about five years old, she developed an infection in her left eye. She lost her left eye, and wore an artificial eye for the rest of her life.
It was not obvious when you first met her. Her “eye appearance” was akin to Peter Falk’s (Inspector Columbo).
While the jokes about women drivers gained in popularity, I didn’t pay too much attention to them because Mom was a good driver, and she did not pay too much attention to them either.
The jokes were not politically correct, but no one knew about political correctness back then. That’s not exactly true, but I don’t remember women complaining about the jokes about their driving.
I never thought about Mom driving with just one eye until years later, and I asked her how she could drive so well with just one eye. She said she had talked to doctors about it, and the conclusion was that one-eyed drivers compensated to the point of losing only about 20 percent of their vision.
She never had an accident.
Radio sit-coms included Lum & Abner (at the jot-em down store), Amos & Andy, Fibber McGhee & Molly and Henry Aldridge.
If I remember correctly, our early morning radio was chiefly the Louisiana Hayride, a “sort of” Good Morning, America for that day that included a mixture of songs and jokes.
My most vivid memory for that program had to do with Hadacol, an over-the- counter “drug” that made you feel good. And the jokes, oh yes I remember.
“Why do they call it Hadacol? They had to call it something.”
Other old shows that come to mind include Jack Armstrong (the all-American boy}, Dragnet, Dick Tracy, Steve Wilson of the Illustrated Press. The Inner Sanctum, Flash Gordon and the Lone Ranger.
Several years ago, in a television interview, Shelby Foote, Southern novelist and historian, told of going to a metropolitan library to study old newspapers.
The librarian fixed him up with plenty of microfilm and the apparatus with the hand crank that allows you to spin the magnified pages for reading.
Foote said this microfilm procedure did not feel right, so he asked the librarian if they had old newspapers in scrapbooks. Yes, he was told, but they’re in the basement.
“Even better,” Foote said, making the point that he wanted to feel a sense of history while he was studying history.
He wanted to touch the yellowing newsprint to get the feel of time and the printed word.
The microfilm procedure had a plastic cheapness about it. He just didn’t like it, and the pages were blurred by the jerky motion of the crank.
Foote’s interview reminded me of the little library we had for years in my hometown of Evergreen. It looked as though it had once been a filling station.
It seemed comfortable to call it “the little green library,” giving it the same sense of character as “the little red school house.”
Foote would have loved it.
On summer days you could go to the library to read in the cool breeze of an oscillating fan --- a black fan with a felt base to cut the noise. Young readers picked up quickly on learning the big word “oscillating.” It made us feel smart to know that oscillating meant “to swing back and forth like a pendulum.”We’re talking high-tech here.
People spoke in whispers The librarian was a gentle woman who knew what books were about. And she seemed to be pleased when youngsters came in quietly, pulled out an “adventure book” from a shelf, and sat down on the cool cement floor.
Nor did the librarian say anything about the B-B Bat Sucker you enjoyed while you read. You could just read and read and read.
This is the ambiance I have looked for in a library over the years. Sometimes I find it and sometimes I don’t.
No matter, It’s not that big of a deal, but it is good to know that Shelby Foote has the same idea.
A reader has asked for a soul definition of the word “liberal.”
You learn early in newspaper work that liberal is a subjective word in th same sense as the words “young” or “old.” An “old” person is someone 15 years older than you are.
In politics it is used as an attack word. Being called “liberal” is not the same as being called a “sissy,” but it comes close.
Liberal has been abused for so long and so viciously that it needs a break. And now that I think about it the word “conservative” needs some rest, too.
In today’s political climate, however, they say you have to be conservative to get elected.And if you get tagged as being “liberal” you will disappear faster than Bruce Willis did in “Armageddon.”
Bad-mouthing liberal thought, however, is not too smart.
A liberal thinker could be defined as someone who questions what is wrong and then asks what can be done about it.
Seems like a good approach to things. But if you wait long enough that same definition will be applied to a conservative thinker.
It just depends.
Keeping up with style and usage in American English is tedious.
From The Associated Press Stylebook (1993):
Reluctant means unwilling to act: He is reluctant to enter the primary.
Reticent means unwilling to speak: The candidate’s husband is reticent.
running mate (two words, no hyphen)
rush hour (n.) rush-hour (adj.)
Who, Whom: Use who and whom for references to human beings and to animals with a name.
Use that and which for inanimate objects and animals without a name.
Who is the word when someone is the subject of a sentence, clause or phrase:
The woman who rented the room left the window open. Who is there?
Whom is the word when someone is the object of a verb or a preposition: The woman to whom the room was rented left the window open. Whom do you wish to see?
Who’s Whose: Who’s is a contraction for who is, not a possessive. Who’s there?
Whose is the possessive: I do not know whose coat it is.
round up (v.) roundup (n.)
rubella: Also known as German measles.
sculptor: Use for both men and women.
stationary, stationery: To stand still is to be stationary. Writing paper is stationery.
pupil, student: Use pupil for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Student or pupil is acceptable for grades nine through 12.
Use student for college and beyond.
Editor’s note: It appears to me that common usage is now student in reference to all grades. The latest style book I have at the house is for the year 1993. I need to have a current style book.
The Associated Press Stylebook is used by most newspapers. Exceptions to this rule include The New York Times and The Washington Post.
American English is a complicated language that requires consistent updates because usage changes so much. Think for example how much change the development of the Internet has made and continues to make on our language.
And we all have to be aware of the differences in style and usage between the English Departments and the journalism departments. (Life is tedious.)
The National Rifle Association could improve its relations with the public by working through programs aiming to improve the mental health of people, all kinds of people.
Now maybe they are working through such programs, but if they are I don’t know about it.
The NRA’s mantra that “guns don’t kill, people do” would fit comfortably in a program geared to help the mentally ill. And it has been consistently the mentally ill who have used guns to kill innocent people.
Right now in particular when a lack of funding has caused Alabama to cut back on mental health facilities, the NRA could help by stressing the need for priorities in this area.
From my observation, states serve the mentally ill by providing places for them to take their medicine, and it is this medicine that gives people a chance to control themselves and act in a constructive manner.
If nothing else, the NRA could help the public develop a better understanding of the problems of mentally ill people and their families.
Families who have to deal with this problem need all the help they can get.
In retrospect, the single mom who was trying to deal with her son who killed those kids in Newtown Conn., did not stand a chance.
Now you are right to ask: How can the NRA help in such situations?
I can only respond by saying I have no idea how the NRA can help, but I do know the NRA could find a way to help if they wanted to. I would start by going to mental health associations to find out how they can help.
In particular, I would talk to doctors and parents who deal with this problem. I feel confident they would tell NRA people how they can help.
The success of this idea would depend on the willingness of the NRA to take some responsibility in this problem.
Indeed it may be true that people, not guns, kill, but it is just as true that the NRA manufactured the guns used in the killing.
* * *
Medical research has reached a zenith, I thought, when I saw the incredible television news story about the young man whose arms and legs had been successfully transplanted.
And then I remembered my own experience years back when surgeons at EAMC performed open heart surgery on me.
Then I thought of all the people I know who have experienced knee replacements and hip replacements.
The practice of medicine means so much to all of us.
My memories as a child include how it was that people would not say the word “cancer,” but today we have people who discuss their cancer treatments.
Times change, people change, often for the better.
“Hello, Darkness, my old friend. Time to talk to you again.”
So goes that compelling song by Simon and Garfunkel that pulled the movie fans into the incredible plot of “The Graduate” with Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross.
I watched it again the other night on Turner Classic Movies. It was just as good the other night as it was in 1967. Poor old Benjamin, poor old Elaine and poor old Mrs. Robinson.
I’ve seen it at least a dozen times, and each time I am reminded of a conversation with my Mom back in the 1940s during the radio days when we had just listened to a romantic comedy on the Lux Theatre. I was about 12 or so.
At the end, Mom spoke in her serious voice:
“Marriage is never like the end of a movie.”
My understanding of that observation over the years: Don’t take movies and radio programs too seriously.
But of course you should take marriage seriously.
Sometimes children listen to their parents, and sometimes they don’t.
According to an article by John Michelson of TNNS, posted recently on line:
“The divorce rate in America peaked at around 50 percent in the 1980s. and slowly has been trending downward. It is slightly more than 40 percent.” (TNNS, often referred to as Tennis is an Amazon publication.)
In reference to the romantic comedy, “The Graduate,” I have often wondered if Mike Nichols, the director, has ever considered a follow-up.
Imagine a gathering at Mrs. Robinson’s with Benjamin, Elaine, Mr. Robinson, Ben’s parents and all those friends who attended at the pool party to welcome home the graduate.
Of course it was a fairy tale, as most movies are. That’s why it is good for us to see a real movie now and then such as “Lincoln.”
Come to think of it. The story of the marriage of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd would not necessarily be a romantic comedy, and I doubt that it would be a box office smash.
As for marriage today, here’s a quote from The Huffington Post, posted on the Internet:
“In light of the current divorce rate, why do you think young people expect their marriage to last?
“Well, I think because we still have a very romantic view of marriage as a society. Surveys show that close to 90 percent of emerging adults say they expect to find their soul mate as a marriage partner.
“That’s a very romantic ideal. It’s a sort of ideal person that is just right for you. And so I think that even though many young people have seen their parents (divorce), and they are always aware of the 50 percent divorce rate, they still go into it determined to have a successful marriage, and very hopeful of reaching that soul mate ideal.”
My observation is that so many young people today are so burdened by the college loan fiasco and the easy access to the credit card mindset that they are simply too deep in debt to be able to recognize their soul mates.
Debts never go away unless somebody pays them. And you can’t pay them without a really good job with a really good salary ... and a lot of discipline.
“Hello darkness, my old friend, time to talk to you again.”
We have Knology now with its incredible number of movies, old shows and nekkid channels, but we spend most of the time watching Turner Classic Movies, and re-runs, from Frasier, Cheers, Golden Girls, Everybody loves Raymond and I Love Lucy.
My favorites in the current shows include “The Good Wife,” a couple of the CSI shows, and “Law and Order SVU.” I also enjoy the PBS shows.
Obviously, Hollywood still makes some good movies, but I think overall those films of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s are better than some films made today..
I especially enjoyed the Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon movies this week.
The so-called adult language movies of today are often thin on plots, and tend to get your attention by using the “F” word every other scene. When one television writer was interviewed some time ago about the use of such language, he said the language helped actors in reflecting the rage of their characters. The rage develops quicker, he said.when the language gets rougher.
Maybe so, but actors from the old days reflected a great deal of rage without the use of such language. Humphrey Bogart’s character did not need adult language in “Sierra Madre” when he went into a murderous rage. He just went into a rage.
Nor did Richard Widmark’s character when he pushed the old lady in the wheelchair down the stairs in his first movie, “The Kiss of Death.”
I think today’s writers feel they connect better with the young viewers from 18 to 40, that magical range that advertisers want to reach. And they think using “the adult language” does the trick.
My favorite show in the current line-up is “The Good Wife” on CBS because I think it is extremely well written. These writers cover court procedures, lawyers and law firms in magnificent detail. This show has credibility, and I think credibility is vital. They use adult language, but they use it in an adult way.
Bob Sanders knows more about movies than any one, and I would like to read his take in comparing the “old adult language” with the new version.
* * *
In reference to the National Rifle Association’s skillful escape from guilt in connection with murderous rages, I suggest that the NRA make an effort to help mentally ill people who buy guns then kill people.
The NRA maintains that guns do not kill people; people do. OK, granted but the NRA could help by finding some way to contribute to the treatment of the mentally ill.
Now hear me out before you dismiss this as “liberal hogwash.” Alabama and other states have had to close mental facilities for the mentally ill because of budget cutbacks. Before the cutbacks, these facilities served as places for patients who needed support in taking their medicine; medicine in some cases that would prevent murderous rages.
Scoff if you will, but the NRA’s people could talk to doctors and mental health associations to find how it could help. Certainly the public might have a bit more respect for the NRA if it actually tried to help. They might be able to sell more guns this way.
The irony is that sales at gun stores reportedly increase after some of these shootings.
Here in Alabama, we have always understood our reality in the sense that New York, for example, has Broadway, and we have Montgomery in the sense that our state government often entertains us with drama and comedy to a high degree of theatrical education. Our latest show involves our state attorney general, our lust for gambling and our yearning for political victory through legal ingenuity.
I am thankful that The Montgomery Independent, a gutsy weekly with Bob Martin as its editor and publisher, is articulating the historical moments making up the latest chapter of the conflict involving our attorney general Luther Strange, our pursuit of happiness through gambling in a casino and our ability to manipulate the law with a skill akin to Shakespeare’s remarkable talent.
The factual threads that bind us, according to the Independent, are that the Poarch Creek gambling tribe paid our attorney general $100,000 via a political contribution to tomahawk the competition, which in this case is Milt McGregor’s casino titled VictoryLand.
This time the Creeks have the power.
And sure enough, Sir Luther somehow finagled our Supreme Court to issue a search warrant that led to the shut down of the casino and the confiscation of its “bingo” machines.
“Foul play” hollered Montgomery attorney Joe Espy, who rides the white horse for McGregor.
Indeed, how was it that our Supreme Court with the Ten Commandment judge, Roy Moore, now serving as chief justice, over-ruled a circuit court judge to issue the search warrant that led to the collapse of the house of McGregor?
A study of the case shows that our attorney general found an obscure case that gave the higher court the authority to do so.
And so it was that Alabama troopers, following the orders of the attorney general, initially searched the casino to find that it was operating illegally then confiscated the sinful machines.
A cameo role in this drama is being played by Johnny Ford, mayor of Tuskegee, who walked to center stage because his city is in the county of Macon, the home site of the casino. “Jobs,” yelled Ford, you’re taking jobs from our good people, who support their families with their paychecks from VictoryLand.”
Meanwhile, a good time is being had by all who chose to gamble in the Indian facilities across Alabama. How can the Indians run casinos in Alabama? While regular Alabamians cannot?
Because it is written that Indian Reservations are protected by the federal government. And somewhere it is written that when we gave some of the stolen land back to the Creeks we did so with the understanding that they can use the land without restriction from the states.
Every time The Montgomery Independent writes about this comedy of errors, emphasis is placed on the $100,000 political contribution to Luther Strange’s campaign for attorney general.
The implication is that the Creeks own Alabama’s attorney general.
Meanwhile, there may be those who remember it was Montgomery attorney Joe Espy, now the attorney for VictoryLand, who successfully defended a whole bunch of people charged with bribing legislators to support gambling interests.
Espy successfully defended most of these cases in open court. This was quite a show of legal strength.
This leads me to believe that if this case ever gets to open court, Strange things might happen. Pardon the pun, but there it was just waiting to be used.
So what does all this mean? New York has Broadway. We have Montgomery.
If this case ever gets to open court, it might just be the best play we have ever seen.
It would be a comedy if it were not so serious.