A Bozone Dude Reflects on 1992 tTC

JOSEPH GALLAGHER

December 31, 1992|By JOSEPH GALLAGHER

Some choice items you might have missed in your 1992 readings:

A newspaper story on the 50th anniversary of the destruction of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, recalled that ''assassins bombed the car Reinhard Heydrich, who was then buried with bombastic Nazi honors.''

* April may be cool for a dip, but a local newspaper article on opening day at Oriole Park worried about ''Inner Harbor gridlock . . . the planners say their one real nightmare is a horde of divers circling the downtown area looking for parking.''

* Theologically provocative sports headline: ''12 Angels Injured in Crash.''

* A man burglarizing an apartment in Utah heard a baby crying in a nearby apartment. He broke into the second apartment, changed the baby's diaper, lectured the frightened mother, and left.

* A bank robber in Reggio Calabria, Italy, hypnotized a cashier into giving him more than $4,000.

* Robbers in Winnipeg, Canada, kidnapped Marcel Laurendeau and locked him in the truck of his car. Luckily, the victim held on to his briefcase, which contained a cellular phone. He called the police and guided them to his abandoned car.

* While monitoring police calls, newsman Dave Matthews of New Mexico learned that his own house was being burglarized. Matthews phoned home, and when his answering machine beeped for a message, he yelled: ''Drop that right now, and get the hell out of my house!'' Policemen caught two teen-agers fleeing from the house.

* Dogs may be anti-burglar, but a California judge ordered a family to limit their basset hounds to barking once an hour, no more than two minutes at a time, and never between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

* Neatest Sentence: ''If we were all men of goodwill, which we are not, and if we could agree on how it should be done, which we can't, and if had the money, which we don't, it would still take 10 years.'' C. Everett Koop on the need for health-care reform.

* Mr. Al Palanza, recently deceased, received this kindly letter from a South Carolina Department of Social Services: ''Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your situation.''

* Once on Broadway someone forgot to disconnect the stage manager's phone. On stage, Shakespeare's Julius Caesar had just been slain. As the conspirators stood around the body, the phone rang loudly. Quick-witted actor Joseph Maher asked as if in panic: ''What if it's for Caesar?''

* A review of ''Naked Lunch'' ended with the notice that the movie ''is rated R for nearly everything imaginable.''

* Anthony Perkins, who died this year, will always be mad Norman Bates. The author of ''Psycho,'' Robert Bloch, recently described how absolutely unprepared audiences were for the Hitchcock film. He says that in previews he started wearing earplugs because the chorus of screams was so unnerving.

* The founder and publisher of Mad magazine also died this year. Bill Gaines had his own mad streak. He and his 20 staff members once traveled to Haiti to try to dissuade the only subscriber there from canceling.

* Macabre cartoonist John Callahan draws a restaurant with this sign in the window: ''The Anorexic Cafe: Now Closed 24 Hours a Day.''

* Best Book Review Comment: ''This book fills a much-needed gap.''

* It must have been a unique year for the New York Times best-seller list. After an expose, ''The Education of Little Tree'' was switched from non-fiction to fiction. After protests were made, the Auschwitz cartoon book ''Maus II'' was switched from fiction to non-fiction.

* Soon to appear in your local bookstore: two books entitled ''Ordinary Miracles.'' One is fiction, the other, non-fiction. Both Jimmy Carter and Charles Shultz were planning to publish books named ''Turning Point'' next year. Mr. Shultz will rename his, ''Turmoil and Triumph.'' Titles of books, plays and movies can't be copyrighted, nor can pen names.

* The original name of Olympic Barcelona was Faventia Julia Augusta Paterna Barcino. The Spanish city of Zaragossa was originally pronounced Caesaraugusta. The Spanish ''San Juan'' gave birth to the Suwannee River in Georgia. Stephen Foster changed it to Swanee, as in ''Way Down Upon the.''

* The recent presidential election compaign saw the words ''bozo'' and ''ozone'' applied to two candidates. Are they the only two English words containing ''ozo''? Notice how the words could have been combined to produce ''bozone.''

* Historic name-calling: Charlemagne, of course, was Charles the Great, ancestor of Charles the Bald and Charles the Fat. French kings include Charles the Simple (son of Louis the Stammerer), Charles the Fair, Charles the Wise, Charles the Mad (alias the Well-Beloved), and Charles the Well-Served. Naples had Charles the Lame, and Navarre had Charles the Good and Charles the Bad.

My favorite is the French King John the Posthumous.

* Carl Linnaeus, who revolutionized the naming of plants, named Lapland flower after himself, calling it ''lowly, insignificant, disregarded, flowering but for a brief time -- named for the Linnaeus who resembles it.''

* A would-be suicide in Denmore, New York, crashed through a double-paned fourth-floor window and landed on a car. He then rode up the elevator and repeated the 40-foot jump, landing on the car again. Suffering only a broken wrist and ankle, he said he had been depressed because he felt he was a failure.

* Humorist Dave Barry did no special name-calling after visiting Japan. ''Because despite the gulf, physical and cultural, between the U.S. and Japan, both societies are, in the end, made up of people, and people everywhere -- when you strip away their superficial differences -- are crazy.''

Father Gallagher is a priest of the Baltimore Archdiocese.

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