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WEDNESDAY READER | APRIL 19

Wednesday Reader April 19

POP QUIZ

  1.   WHO TYPICALLY SIGNED OFF HIS BROADCASTS BY SAYING, “GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK”?
    a) Walter Cronkite
    b) Edward R. Murrow
    c) Dan Rather
    d) Eric Sevareid
  2.   WHAT SHAPE IS THE SYMBOL FOR BLEACH ON CLOTHING CARE LABELS?
    a)  Circle
    b) Handprint
    c) Square
    d) Triangle
  3.   WHO SQUARED OFF AGAINST MUHAMMAD ALI AT THE 1974 “RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE” BOXING MATCH IN ZAIRE?
    a) George Foreman
    b) Joe Frazier
    c) Ken Norton
    d) Leon Spinks
  4.   ABOUT HOW LONG IS THE FAMOUS CHARIOT RACE SCENE IN 1959’s “BEN-HUR”?
    a) 4 minutes
    b) 11 minutes
    c) 23 minutes
    d) 37 minutes
  5.   WHO WON FOUR CONSECUTIVE NAACP IMAGE AWARDS FOR HER PORTRAYAL OF COOKIE LYON ON “EMPIRE”?
    a) Viola Davis
    b) Taraji P. Henson
    c) Tracee Ellis Ross
    d0 Kerry Washington
  6. TIBETAN MOMO, MONGOLIAN BUUZ AND CHINESE HA GOW ARE TYPES OF WHAT?
    a) Dumpling
    b) Flower
    c) Goat
    d) Tent

Wednesday Reader April 19

QUICK QUESTION

HOW MANY TRUE FRIENDS DO YOU HAVE?

Wednesday Reader April 19

POP QUIZ ANSWERS

  1.  Edward R. Murrow signed off his broadcasts by saying, “Good night, and good luck.”
  2.  Bleach is indicated by a triangle on clothing care labels.
  3.  Muhammad Ali knocked out George Foreman at the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire.
  4.  The chariot race scene in the 1959 film “Ben-Hur” runs about 11 minutes.
  5.  Taraji P. Henson won four consecutive NAACP Image Awards for her role as Cookie Lyon on “Empire.”
  6.  Tibetan momo, Mongolian buuz and Chinese ha gow are types of dumplings.

~  COPYRIGHT 2023 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

LIPSTICK, MIRRORS AND TEENAGE GIRLS

According to a news report several years ago, about a certain high school in London that was posed with an unique problem …

So the story goes —

A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the high school bathroom.

That was fine.

However, after they put on their lipsticks, they would press their lips to the bathroom mirror, leaving dozens of lipstick prints.

Every evening, the maintenance man had the task of removing them.

But, then, the next day — the girls would do it all over again and plant their lipstick lip prints on the mirrors.

Finally, the principal decided that something had to be done, so she called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man.

The principal explained that all of the lip prints were less than desirable for the maintenance man, who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, the principal asked the maintenance man to demonstrate his method of cleaning the mirrors.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in a toilet, and cleaned the mirrors with it.

Since that afternoon, it was reported, there were no more lip prints on the mirrors.

There are teachers, and then there are educators

KIND IS THE NEW COOL

((  Starve the landfills.  Recycle. ))

RIDDLE ME THIS

I HAVE A HEAD LIKE A CAT AND FEET LIKE A CAT.  What am I?

Wednesday Reader April 19

RHUBARB CUSTARD PIE

Rhubarb season has arrived!

As I recall, this was one of my Dad’s all time favorites.  The recipe is from my mom’s recipe box.  In her handwriting on the recipe card – EXCELLENT!

Here it is:

Oven 400*

MIX TOGETHER IN A MEDIUM SIZED BOWL:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dash of salt

ADD:

  • 3 well beaten eggs (as in beat eggs with a fork, or use a whisk)

BEAT EGGS WITH SUGAR, FLOUR NUTMEG UNTIL SMOOTH

NOW – STIR IN WITH A WOODEN SPOON:

4 cups (washed and cleaned) rhubarb stalks, sliced into 1 ” pieces
*about 5 big stalks*

PREPARE PASTRY FOR 9″ LATTICE-TOP PIE

LINE 9″ PIE PLATE WITH PASTRY

FILL WITH RHUBARB MIXTURE

DOT WITH 2 – 4 TBSP BUTTER OVER RHUBARB MIXTURE

DO THE LATTICE TOP THING OVER ALL AND SEAL THE OUTSIDE EDGES

BAKE AT 400* FOR 50 MINUTES

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream.  Or serve it cold for breakfast!

RIDDLE ANSWER

A KITTEN

Wednesday Reader April 19

ARE YOU THERE, GOD? ‘MARGARET’ IS RIGHT ON TIME AMID BOOK BANS

Spouting spoilers when it comes to “Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret” is a minor sin at most, given how many bedroom pillows the book has been wedged beneath for decades.  All former adolescent readers, myself included, know the joy of slumping against a mall wall or tucking under a blanket, engrossed in a story that feels like a shot of truth serum, a mirror to your half-formed life.

Judy Blume gave that to so many of us.  She published her iconic tale about the torture and awkward magic of puberty in 1970, and it has remained a staple read for tweens ever since.  More than 50 years later, “Margaret” is now a movie starring big names like Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, with Abby Ryder Fortson playing an endearing Margaret.  It comes out April 28 in theaters, but I saw an early screening this week in New Tampa.

It wasn’t my bible of youth — those would be “Harriet the Spy” and “Matilda” — but “Margaret” was so ubiquitous that I read it along with many other girls.  The movie adaptation is charming, faithful to the book and tweaked in the right places — stick-in maxi pads have long replaced those terrifying sanitary belts, for example, even in the new editions of the book.  It offers plenty of tender moments, plus the belly laughs and quotables one would want (“We must, we must, we must increase our bust!”)

Float above the amusing bits, though, and you will see this slice of Americana as the cultural terrarium it truly is.  Blume has given the world a gift by agreeing to let Kelly Fremon Craig adapt the book after declining it for years.  “Margaret” accompanies a wave of overdue appreciation, including the documentary “Judy Blume Forever” coming to Amazon Prime on April 21.

These projects feel like divine providence in 2023, in the midst of this nation’s loony, puritanical backslide into book-banning, white-washing and censorship.  I’ve filled a few columns this spring with pleas for change and frustrations over leaders’ inaction.  All of this brings me to “Margaret,” one of the most challenged and banned works in history, for years a regular entry on the American Library Association’s list of the 100 most frequently challenged books.

Why?  Because the text talks frankly about menstruation, breasts, new sexual urges, the competition between young girls to become women fastest.  On top of that, the 11-year old main character openly questions the existence of God, torn in different directions by her interfaith family and seeking something otherworldly to make her feel alive.  What a revolutionary, vulnerable thing to read, “I’ve been looking for you God.  I looked in a temple.  I looked in church.  And today, I looked for you when I wanted to confess.  But you weren’t there.  I didn’t feel you at all.”

The character Margaret acts as a totem for so many kids, intellectual beings on the precipice of adulthood who are smarter and more capable of processing the world than their parents might believe.  That’s not to say we all weren’t idiots, at least some of the time.  I for sure was.  Who doesn’t remember being a new teenager, living with utter disdain for adults who don’t understand literally anything?  And who doesn’t remember seeking understanding in other places, in books, in movies, in magazines.  This is why works like “Margaret” survive for generations.  It’s because of that frankness about hard things, not in spite of it, that they continue to survive on bedroom shelves.

“Margaret” reminds us that when loving parents and skilled teachers engage in questions instead of denying conversations, worlds open up.  But Florida is surely leading the way in shutting conversations down.  Tampa Bay parents have challenged everything from “The Bluest Eye” to “This Book is Gay” to the movie “Ruby Bridges” in the span of months.  This week, a Vero Beach high school removed an Anne Frank graphic novel.  Who can forget the laughable Tallahassee ruckus relating to the statue of David?  Each example — and there are so many more — stems from a state leadership seeking to obscure a host of realities ranging from racial inequity to gender and sexuality spectrums.

This level of control is a losing proposition, which the movie gently reminds viewers.  Periods and breasts come.  So do those funny feelings.  Kids will find those books in hiding, please believe.  In the movie, Margaret and her friends cringe at a drawing of a penis and swipe her dad’s issue of “Playboy.”  They play a closet kissing game at a sixth-grade party.  They fight amongst themselves, lie to each other in a living room about Margaret but seem to forget she is even there.

Margaret reaches her breaking point.  “Just stop fighting!”  she shouts, because Margaret knows.

Adults, even when they mean well, are often the problem.  They are the ones projecting issues on children who need guidance, of course, but also tenfold amounts of trust and room to figure out who they are.

Are you there?

~ Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay times in Florida.  Follow her at @stephhayes on Twitter or @stephrhayes on Instagram.  COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS.COM

Fascinating Stuff

FASCINATING STUFF

  • George Clooney became famous playing Dr. Doug Ross in the TV medical drama “ER,” but years earlier he played Ace, an emergency medical technician, in a  medical sitcom called “E/R” that ran for 22 episodes in 1984-1985.  Like “ER” the drama, “E/R” the sitcom was set at a hospital in Chicago, and Mary McDonnell was one of the stars.  Unlike “ER,” “E/R” was produced by the same company that produced “The Jeffersons.”  Thus, Sherman Hemsley appeared in the pilot episode as George Jefferson.
  • Fashionable women in 16th-century Venice bleached their hair blond with concoctions made from ashes, white wine, barley straw and more toxic ingredients.  Applicator sponges and wide brimmed hats without crowns were invented for the bleaching process.  A woman would apply the bleach to her hair and put on the hat, which shaded her face but left her hair exposed.  Then she’d sit on her terrace and let the hot sun bake the goop into her hair.
  • From 1971 – 1997, after nearly a century of tragic history as a Belgian colony, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was renamed Zaire.  Derived from a Kongo word, Zaire is colorfully translated as “the river that swallows all rivers.”  The capital, Leopoldville (for King Leopold II of Belgium), became Kinshasa.  And Zaire’s leader Joseph-Desire Mobutu called himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, or “the all-conquering warrior who goes from triumph to triumph.”  When Mobutu was deposed, the country’s name was changed back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Kinshasa is its capital.
  • When is a bull’s-eye a star?  When it’s Aldebaran, the giant star that constitutes the “eye” of the constellation Taurus, the bull.  Bigger and redder than our sun, the Aldebaran is the brightest star in Taurus and was easily recognizable to ancient astronomers.  Chinese, Hindu and Roman stargazers all spotted it and watched it, but Islamic astronomers named it.  Aldebaran’s name comes from the Arabic for “The Follower.”
  • DoubleTree hotels give away more than 75,000 signature chocolate chip-walnut cookies to guests every day — an estimated 384 million warm, chewy cookies a year.  The tradition began in 1986 with cookies distributed as part of the hotels’ evening turndown service.  Developed by the Christie Cookie Co. of Nashville, Tennessee, the DoubleTree cookie recipe remains a secret, but the hotel company says it uses more than a million pounds of chocolate and 500,000 pounds of walnuts in its cookies each year.
  • The constitution of the kingdom of Bhutan specifies that at least 60% of the country’s area to be maintained as forestland “to conserve the country’s natural resources and to prevent degradation of the ecosystem.”  It also states that citizens “shall have the duty to preserve, protect and respect the environment, culture and heritage of the nation.”  Until 1999, Bhutan didn’t have television service or internet access.  Its capital, Thimphu, has about 100,000 residents, 44,000 cars and zero traffic lights.

~ COPYRIGHT 2023 LESLIE ELMAN
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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1 reply
  1. Carol says:

    Rhubarb pie was my mother’s favorite. Her grandchildren used to take slices to her when they could find them. I can’t wait to try your version. Loved the interesting facts, as always.

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