Odds and ends from '97

January 07, 1998|By Joseph Gallagher

THE PAST year has repeatedly made me glad that I learned to read. Here are some reasons:

A newspaper accident report: ''The area in which she was injured is spectacularly scenic.''

Dubious Praise: ''Your book will always be on our bookshelf.''

Radio ads: 1) This is a message for businessmen, large or small. 2) Listen to songs for aging children from 3 to 5.

Movie Review: ''Advance word about 'ConAir' said that it was all about an airplane with an an unusually dangerous and potentially lethal load. Big deal. You should try the lunches they serve out of Newark.''

Review of an Adult Film: ''Jeff Stryker plays himself, a role regrettably beyond his acting capabilities.''

Adriana Caselotti died last year at 80. At age 18, the convent-educated Los Angeles native was the voice of Disney's Snow White, most memorably in ''Someday My Prince Will Come.'' Her father, a voice coach, recommended her to a Disney casting scout. She beat out more than 150 other voices, including that of Deanna Durbin (Winston Churchill's favorite actress).

Legendary sister

Four years after the Titanic hit the North Atlantic iceberg, its larger sister ship, the Britannic, was sunk by a mine or torpedo in the Aegean Sea. Never serving as a luxury liner it had become a hospital ship in World War I. Twenty-eight people perished when it sank; 1,106 survived.

The most common family name in the world is Chang; the most common personal name, Muhammad. The most common U.S. town name is Franklin, followed closely by Madison and Washington. The commonest presidential city is Jefferson, just ahead of Washington and Lincoln. The most common street is Second; the most common county is Washington.

It is widely known that Declaration of Independence signers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on the 50th Fourth of July. The last words of Adams were wrong: ''Jefferson still lives.'' Fewer know who was born that day: Stephen Foster.

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln offered the nationalist Italian guerrilla fighter, Giuseppe Garibaldi, a command in the Civil War. Garibaldi turned it down both because Lincoln would not give him supreme command and had not made a sufficiently sweeping condemnation of slavery.

From Dave Barry: ''Reporters asked about charges that the Clinton Administration is selling government jobs to foreigners. 'That's ridiculous!' snapped White House spokesperson Vopulaji Olymetrioudamba Harshpretyoun IV, speaking through a translator.''

A Wisconsin patient sued her psychiatrist. He convinced her she had 120 personalities and charged her for group therapy.

''Lawyers have been known to wrest from reluctant juries triumphant verdicts of acquittal for their clients, even when those clients, as often happens, were clearly and unmistakably innocent.'' -- Oscar Wilde.

''A man who has a million dollars is as well off as if he were rich.'' -- John Jacob Astor.

Teacher to student who wanted to quit: ''And what do you plan to do with only a fourth-grade education?'' ''Teach third grade.''

Smart move

Late one night last May, Bessie Cassaro was forced into her trunk by two car-jackers. She calmly disconnected the wires to the signal and brake lights. When a policeman tried to pull the car over, the car-jackers raced away, crashed into a tree and fled before capture. Ms. Cassaro banged on the trunk until she was liberated.

Italy has 532 cars per thousand people; the U.S., 514. They are the only two countries with a percentage higher than 500. In a car or elsewhere, the average earthling makes love 112 times per year. The French lead at 151, with the Yanks just behind at 148.

Remember Mike Tyson's ear bite? Every milliliter of saliva harbors about a hundred million organisms of approximately 42 different species.

As for 1998: Remember, ''One swallow doesn't make a spring, but it can break a New Year's Resolution.''

The Rev. Joseph Gallagher is a retired priest of the Baltimore Archdiocese.

Pub Date: 1/07/98

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