Tongue Twisters

[An oldie from June 19, 2014] The first tongue twisters that most kids of my generation learned was “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.  If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?” 

The two others that I remember well (and which to this day I can recite perfectly) are:  Rubber buggy bumpers” and “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore.”  I was told to repeat them three times quickly and of course I remember them coming out “Rubber bubby mumpersRugger buddy buppersBuggy bubber bumpers.”  The “Sally” one came out equally bad. 

I haven’t given much thought to tongue twisters until a few weeks ago when someone challenged me to say “I slit a sheet, a sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.”   That is not one for the faint of heart.  Especially if you have to say it while holding your tongue.   Fortunately I learned this one from Donna early on (must be an East Coast thing) so I took a breath and spat it out.  Flawlessly.  Raised a few eyebrows that did. . . .  

If anyone gets bored, here are hundreds of tongue twisters online.  And there are tongue twisters for children (which is a good educational tool). See e.g. .   Excuse me now as I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch. . . .

Thread the Needle

[A repeat from February 18, 2018] Did your mother have a sewing machine? Mine did. Once a month or so, my mother would pull out the Singer sewing machine and darn socks, ripped underwear and replace buttons.  She would sew patches on my ragged jeans and I was ready to go.  Sewing was part of everyday life.  I learned the basics of sewing.  My grandmother would sometimes ask me to “thread the needle” for her since her eyesight was not too keen.  So I would kiss the thread and do the job. 

Today though – it seems that sewing (as I remember it) has gone the way of the rotary telephone.  In my house, we don’t sew ripped socks anymore (they go in a donation bin).   When something needs sewing, we take it to the local cleaners and they do the job for a few dollars.  I still carry one of those matchbook-sized sewing kits (a few needles and some thread) when I travel but in the years I’ve carted it along – I don’t think I’ve ever used it (except once using a needle to remove a sliver). 

The Huffington Post had an article (October 17, 2014) that said millenials don’t know how to sew, do laundry or even take care of their clothes.  They also don’t know how to cook (Marketwatch); figure out tire pressure; handle finances; do routine first aid; or . . . . quite a few things.   I am thinking about quitting the legal profession and opening a gas station with a laundry service, fast food counter and a medical clinic.  With Wi-Fi . . . . . . 

A Culture of Violence

[A repeat from January 3, 2013] On Saturday mornings when I was growing up, I could watch one hour of television.  I was not allowed to watch “Superman” (the old one with George Reeves) because my mother thought it was “too violent.”  So I usually picked “Mighty Mouse” and “Sky King.”  On Saturday nights, I could sometimes watch “Have Gun Will Travel” and “Gunsmoke” with my father.   In the old Westerns, if a bad guy was shot, he’d fall down.  Narry a drop of blood.  No coughing.  No twitching.  No movement.  And no gloating.   

In 1969, Sam Peckinpah ended that age of innocence with his iconic “The Wild Bunch” in which blood flowed in rivers and the carnage was suffocating.  I remember seeing the movie and going “whoa!” 

Today we accept that young people can watch movies that glorify horror, death and fear.  They play (often for hours on end) the most violent, brutal, cruel and bloody video games.   There is the scalding inhumanity of and bloodlust for ultimate fighting and the degrading and debasing reality television shows where manipulation and back-stabbing win.  Hollywood sinks lower.  And lower.  But – hey – don’t you dare try and impose your values on anyone.   Don’t even think of mentioning the word “God” in school or a public place.   And heaven help you if you bring a Bible to school.   The ACLU and secular “progressives” (who want to impose their values on you) will sue you and run you out of town under the guise of safeguarding liberty.   

When you see the horrific violence that we as a society wreak upon ourselves, I have to wonder if our culture of violence, the casual acceptance of it and the disintegration of traditional values — don’t invite it. . . .

Christianity, Judaism and Islam

[It is a holy time of year for the three Abrahamic faiths, – a repeat of March 17, 2018] Islam, Judaism and Christianity all trace their lineage to a common ancestor  — Abraham.  And before that, Adam and Eve.  Abraham had two sons:  Isaac (by Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar).  Isaac begat the Line of David from which Jewish and Christian traditions derive.  Ishmael was the forefather of Muhammad — the Messenger of Islam.  God promises in Genesis 21:18 to make a “great nation” of Ishmael.   

Jesus (Isa) is revered in Islam as a Messiah and is mentioned nearly a hundred times in the Quran.  Mary (Maryam) is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran.  She even has her own surra (19).  Islam accepts the Old Testament as “The Word of God.”  And most of the prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran.   

Common heritage, common prophets, beliefs and commands.  Yet many view the differences as irreconcilable.  Islam has 72 insular sects.  Christianity has its own islands of belief and Judaism has various divisions.  Despite common origin, there is distrust, misunderstanding and even violence — all in the name of religion.    While most Christian and Jewish traditions accept and tolerate competing denominations and other religions, violence seems to be confined to Islam.  I previously reported that statistically between 85% and 97% of all violence by Islamic terrorist groups is directed at Muslims.   

In my post of August 25, 2016, I commented on the ecumenical role the Archangel Gabriel – the Divine messenger.  Gabriel has been a messenger in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Bahai.   Each faith urges “Shalom” [Peace]; “As-salamu Aleikum” [Peace]; “Peace be with you” [Peace].  Perhaps God, Allah, Jehovah is trying to give us mere mortals an ecumenical message.   

I’m Goin’ to Trial

[A repeat from April 7, 2018] When I was in the Felony Trial Division at 26th and California, every day was “Let’s Make a Deal.” Each courtroom had about 400 felony cases on call – with perhaps 20 coming up each day for status or trial. There was no way we could handle trials on all these cases so we played let’s make a deal. A killing that took place in a bar fight might be reduced from murder to voluntary manslaughter if the guy plead guilty. But go to trial for murder? You’re looking at 14 on the bottom (and in a few cases after 1976 – the death penalty). Let’s make a deal [in the spirit of February 16, 2022].   Most everyone did.  

Isaac R. was charged with armed robbery. He walked into a rental car agency at Wabash and Lake in Chicago swinging a sawed-off shotgun along his right leg.   A car hiker – sitting in a chair leaning against the wall – saw Isaac walking towards the glass-walled office. And he called the police. Isaac entered, raised the gun and the 7 women who were behind the counter all raised their hands.

Police arrived on the scene almost immediately and could see the goings-on through the glass walls. Guns drawn. Aimed. A Channel 7 news truck was driving by, saw the activity, stopped and began filming. When Isaac walked out, he was immediately arrested — on air — and taken into custody.

When his case came up, we assumed Isaac would plead guilty (can we please make a deal?) but he wanted a jury trial. And he wanted to represent himself — pro se.  A lawyer was assigned to sit with him and help.  My partner Al and I put on 6 of the 7 women as witnesses.  Two were nuns from a local order and two were teachers with second jobs.  Al and I wanted to put the Channel 7 video on but the judge asked –  smiling – “why?”  So we didn’t.  The jury was out for an hour and 20 minutes.  The reason it took so long was — the jury had lunch.  And Isaac (who had 3 other felony indictments pending) went away for a long, long time.   I hope he’s still there. . . . . 

Pardon My Blooper

When I was (very) young, I would listen to and howl at a series of records my parents had — the “Pardon My Blooper” series — which was compiled by Kermit Schafer (1914-1979). “Pardon My Blooper” was a collection of “unintended indiscretions before microphone and camera.”

Schafer was a radio/television producer and writer who began collecting on air “bloopers” early on.  He then began cataloging them — and then synchronizing them into a series of records.   Bloopers came into major prominence in 1931 when veteran radio announcer Harry Von Zell introduced the President of the United States as “Hoobert Heever.”   Schafer offered this wonderful collection of bloopers in seven record albums.  Schafer was criticized for recreating a few famous bloopers but for the most part, what listeners heard is what they hear today on those albums.   Sit back and enjoy a few minutes of real bloopers . . . .

Joe Biden will be featured on an upcoming collection of “Pardon My Blooper.” And Donald Trump will be a regular on “To Tell the Truth.”

The Lottery

(A repeat from January 4, 2015) In 1996, 14 members of my old law firm won the Illinois State Lottery.  All six numbers on a Wednesday night drawing.  $4.4 million over 20 years divided 14 ways.  I was one of two attorneys to participate (you can do the math).   My secretary had asked me for two dollars (okay). No one retired. . . .

I still play a $1.00 Lotto ticket to the tune of $104 a year.  For yucks.   Same family numbers each week.  I win a few bucks here and there but so far, lightning has not struck twice.  Why?  The odds of winning are one in 20,358,520.  The odds of winning the Powerball are 1 in 175,223,510.

I’ve always thought that states could reap a huge windfall of tax money by taking a new approach.  Instead of picking 6 or 7 numbers (between 1 and 52 or whatever) – pick one single number between 1 and 175,223,510.  You’re gonna have a lot of people picking “711” or their birth year or their child’s birthday (1252007).  But how many people will pick 12 or 147,996 or 174,224,011?   You probably won’t have many who pick in the stratosphere of numbers.  And yet — the odds remain the same.  What will happen?  The quick answer — no one will win.  State coffers will overflow.  And politicians will have to think up new ways to waste money. 

As for me, I’m gonna play 106,228,003.  And take it to the bank.  Ka-ching ka-ching . . . . .