There is more to Clarence Darrow than I thought. As the old story goes, the famous litigator slyly distracted juries with his cigar. He supposedly threaded a thin wire through the cigar to keep the burning ashes from falling. Enthralled juries would watch the ashes with anticipation instead of listening to the opposing counsel. True or not, the story has longevity for every negative attorney stereotype. Darrow’s most famous cases – The Scopes Monkey Trial and the murder trial of Leopold and Loeb – are noteworthy for their fame and sensationalism. For these bits of trivia, I quickly dismissed Darrow in my early days ofRead More →

The origin of the word “swag” is appropriate since we are now in Mardi Gras season. Swag, as a bag to haul stuff around in, has been used for half a century in one form or another.  The version we use today – the free crap you get from car dealers, trade shows, and Mardi Gras floats – first appeared around the 1920s. During that time, it referred specifically to the sort of crap folks got from fairground showmen. From a bag to haul your crap in, to the crap you haul in your bag, either way swag has got it. I hope my husbandRead More →

Google was supposed to be called Googol, meaning 10100, the number represented by a 1 followed by one hundred zeros. Apparently, the founders were poor spellers. They trademarked Google and bought the web domain before realizing they misspelled it! Everyone in the world probably already knew this, but I still found it very funny.Read More →

When I was growing up in Manhattan, my very first phone number was LO4-4327. It’s funny to me that I still remember it after all these years. I wonder how many people remember their first phone number. I haven’t used it since I was 9 or 10. But, there it is, still in my head. Erica Jong’s recent column on HuffPo is about nostalgia and New York telephone exchanges. Thus my ponderings on LO4 and Manhattan. Many years after I left New York, I figured out that the first two letters of my number represented where I lived. Watching some old black and white movieRead More →

With the recent deaths of many of my childhood icons — Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Ed McMahon, John Hughes, Bea Arthur – I got to thinking about the famous people who died this year. Growing up, we watched the Oscars segment honoring those who the industry lost during the year. It seems like there’s more celebrity deaths this year than ever before. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say I’m now old enough to recognize the famous people who are dying. Curiously, Wikipedia keeps track of the deaths of “important” or famous people by month and year. I looked over the list forRead More →

In The Advocate online the morning, one of the editorials ended with a -30-. That’s unusual. Usually, the -30- gets edited out before the article goes to press or gets loaded up online. It made me nostalgic for my journalism days. I don’t recall if my journalism teachers ever said exactly why you’re supposed to end an article with -30-. So, using the handy dandy internet, I looked it up. According to this nifty article from the American Journalism Review, no one knows how the tradition got started and what it symbolizes, but there are some neat speculations. Maybe my teacher just didn’t care toRead More →

Randomly, I wondered whether or not cats can taste sweet things. According to this link, they cannot. Apparently, they lack the gene and the taste receptors, whatever that means. Actually, my wondering wasn’t so random. My cat keeps trying to get my grapes, but when I finally offer them to her, she turns her nose up at them. I suspect it is because they are still covered with water from when I washed them. Or perhaps she just wants to play with them.Read More →

I ran into someone today online who goes by the handle Ixchel. Ixchel is the Mayan moon goddess, which I have tattooed on my left forearm. But for some reason, this person didn’t know about the name, so I did a quick Google search and found a neat Wikipedia entry on it.Read More →