The Legend-News

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Monday, 2003 June 16 : Volume 6, Number 12

What We Got Here


Spirit of '03

American Spirit appears to be selling well, although some Critters have reported that it has been hard to find. Especially interesting are the reports of stores which have shelved American Spirit under the category of "New Age", because the album is by Mannheim Steamroller. As true Critters know, Mannheim Steamroller is not, and never has been, "New Age"; But some people just can't deal with music that they can't categorize.

And now, it's time for "Behind The Music".

Bill (yes, that Bill) says: "Thanks to all the Critters, though, for the nice comments." Bill is talking about last issue, wherein we published remarks from Critters about American Spirit.

More comments from The Real McCall:

Typographical errors on the CD: "Yes, I know it was not a 'brass' trombone. Bass! Bass! Not the fish, but a deep voiced trombone. And Ferde Grofé? We got it right in the liner notes but somebody lost his bifocals on the back cover. Too late now. 550,000 copies out there now."

Why "Old Glory", an obviously patriotic song, was not included on American Spirit: "Old Glory? We debated that, but decided to go with a more 4th of July thing. Timing is everything."

Misspellings of a strange nature: "Tintype? That's the way the word should be printed. Not Tin Type. Or Tin Types. But I was not the art director who made that decision."

What exactly did Abraham Lincoln say at Gettysburg?: "Before some Gettysburg Address aficionado says 'Under God'?: Lincoln scholars are still debating whether Abe actually said that, arguing that Lincoln was not an ad-libber. 'Under God' was not in his handwritten notes, but was in the copies he gave to his secretary. Check out the Library of Congress website for a discussion on all the versions of the original speech."

"Lincoln Portrait": "By the way, I have that Henry Fonda version of 'Lincoln Portrait'. (I narrated 'Lincoln Portrait' with the Omaha Symphony back in 1980.) Henry Fonda was from Omaha. Used to perform at the Omaha Playhouse back when he was just starting out." [Bill also notes that "My 'Lincoln Portrait' with the Omaha Symphony was live; no recording was made. 'Lost in time and space.'"]

Lastly, we had mentioned to Bill that we'd seen the American Spirit commercial on FOX News Channel, late on Sunday night, 1 June, just before a scheduled piece about the album on FOX Magazine: "Fox News? 4,000 emails in 10 minutes!"


The Absolutely Last, Final, and Ultimate Item That We Will Publish Regarding "That Line" in "The Gallopin' Goose"

We capitulate. The continuing debate about whether the conductor of the Gallopin' Goose "declared" or "acquired" a busted driveshaft has continued long enough. Mike Smith just weighed in with "acquired", and we were finally driven to do what we should have done weeks ago: we asked Bill Fries.

The question posed: "In 'The Gallopin' Goose', are the words 'He declared a busted driveshaft' or 'He acquired a busted driveshaft' or 'He'd acquired a busted driveshaft'?".

The One, True Answer: "The correct answer is 'He'd acquired'".

Bill says that it's true, so it's true. The Legend-News apologizes for any stupidity in its past regarding this Momentous Question, and the debate is ended. Go in peace.


Old Home Café: The Next Generation

Episode XIX

In the Old Home Café, business was slow, which seemed to be a common occurence as 3 P.M. rolled around. The late lunchers had gone, and the Coke and chocolate shake kids had yet to return from school. Time for a break, thought Jon, as he kicked back in the booth nearest the pay phone and began reading the latest issue of Daredevil.

Larry, Jerry and Jerry Two were out back of the Café, pitching pennies on the cracked concrete slab where once stood a garage. The slab wasn't perfectly flat, and they did need to spend a few minutes with a weed whacker to clear off the vegetation, but as penny-pitching playing fields go, this slab was good.

Pitching pennies is not a highly physical game, so while they sipped on cans of soda and flipped coins, the summer crew of the Old Home Café waxed philosophical.

"I wonder how large a pile of a million pennies would be," Larry mused.

Jerry though for a moment. "Not too large, I'd guess. About a dozen feet cubed, maybe."

"Larger, I'd say," said Larry, tossing a 1999 D towards the crack that they'd selected as a target. "A pile of dimes would be smaller. What about quarters and half-dollars?"

"Well, we could just do the math," suggested Jerry. "How large is a penny? Got a ruler?"

"There's one on Jon's desk. I'll get it," said Larry, entering the back door of the Café, which went directly into the kitchen. He returned less than a minute later, holding a six-inch stainless steel ruler with engraved lines every 1/32nd or 1/64th of an inch, depending upon which edge you were using. He pulled a penny from his pocket; it was a 2002, bright and shiny.

Holding the ruler against the edge of the penny, Larry estimated its thickness. "Looks like about 3/64 inch thick, and about 3/4 inch diameter. A million of them would be…" he paused, making a quick calculation. "… about 3900 feet high."

"Yeah, right," said Jerry. "Who's going to pile a million pennies in one stack?"

Jerry Two looked amused, but he didn't say a word.

"Okay, then, I'll break it down," said Larry. "If a million pennies are 3900 feet high, then half-a-million are 1,950 feet high, 250 thousand are 975 feet high, 125 thousand are… I need a calculator. Jerry," said Larry, referring to Jerry Too, "Would you get the one on Jon's desk? The little blue calculator." Jerry Too stepped into the kitchen.

Jerry sighed. "Nice day, isn't it? Take a break, and it turns into a math lesson."

Jerry Two returned with the calculator. Larry took it and, with a few fast taps upon the keys, arrived at the answer. "One million pennies, stacked in 256 columns of 3900 pennies each, would be 15 feet high, 16 feet wide and 16 feet deep. Approximately," he added, "about the size of the garage that isn't here."

Jerry Two paced off the sides of the concrete slab. Jerry said, "But what would you do with a million pennies, if you had them? Build a tent and charge admission?"

"Good question," said Larry, pondering the answer. He picked up the calculator and ruler. "Be right back," he said, stepping into the Café to return the borrowed items to Jon's desk.

Jon was at this desk, continuing the work which he had begun with the newspaper clippings from the display case in the dining room. Larry put the ruler and calculator on the desk. "What are you going to do with the pictures?" he asked Jon.

Jon leaned back in his chair. "After I scan them, I'll print replacements for the case. These," he said, sweeping his hands across the yellowed newsprint, "are getting hard to read. Then I'll store the originals somewhere safe." He noticed the items that Larry had brought. "What were you doing?" he asked.

"Useless trivia," said Larry. "We were wondering how much space a million pennies would take, and if anyone would pay to see a million pennies."

"Interesting," said Jon. "When you get a million pennies, let me know. You want to keep watch out front?" asked Jon. "It's 3:30. We should be getting a school bus in town about now."

"Yeah, I'll get ready for the after school specials," said Larry, as he headed for the main room.

As Jon scanned another article, he thought about Larry's comment on pennies; he wondered if anyone would actually pay to see a pile of pennies. And how much would they pay? And even then, you would first need to get enough pennies to create the pile and…

That's when the idea slapped him in the face. Larry's investigation may have been trivial, but it was an inspiration. You didn't need a million pennies to start; you only needed one. Like the Field of Dreams, "build it, and they will come."

The Old Home Café was about to add a new offering to its menu.

Next episode: The World's Largest Pile Of Loose Change?


Song A’ Th’ Week

June 14th was Flag Day here in the United States.

Our flag is a symbol. Like all flags, it is a means of identifying allegiance: its bearers will, for better or worse, represent the entirety of the United States of America. To some people on this planet, this symbol is hated; it is a reminder of failed policies, of ideas to which they do not subscribe, of actions which were not seen as being in their best interest.

But to most, it is a symbol of ideals, of efforts to bring justice, of dreams of freedom. It is the symbol of the greatest country that this planet has ever seen. This country is not perfect; but wherever its flag flies, there is hope.

Perhaps one day, every flag in the world will be looked upon in the way that Old Glory is seen. This flag is not the banner of a conquering army, nor a shield behind which cowards may hide. It is a symbol that the world can be changed for the better, that people can live together in peace.

Old Glory
(Chip Davis, Bill Fries)
From the album Roses For Mama

The Flag She was old, and beautiful, and wise, and She taught the young boy everything he needed to know. All about the land, and the woods and the rivers, and what had happened there even before he was born. She taught him what was good and what was bad. And most of all, the difference between right and wrong.

And so, every morning he stood beside his desk, with his hand over his heart, and promised to respect Her for the rest of his days.

When times were hard, and the grain elevators stood empty against the black Midwestern sky, She gave him praise for a hard day's work, and hope for his father. And She promised there would be better days to come.

And he sat by the radio and cried angry tears one gray December day, when he heard that She'd been betrayed. She was hurt; She needed help. He was only twelve, but he gave Her all he could: scraps of paper and tin cans and even the rubber tires from his wagon. He followed Her across the sea, on the maps and the newspaper, wishing he was older, old enough to fight back.

Then after four long, dark years, he heard the church bells ring and the noon whistle blow long and high. And he was part of one brief moment when all the world paid respect to Her.

And then he was grown up; and suddenly, the world had changed. And there were questions about Her. Some thought She was old-fashioned, useless. Some thought She was dead. But then after all, maybe they hadn't known Her as he had.

And now everyone has grown older. The boy, his children, and She too. He saw Her again just the other day: it was one of those bright, summer mornings and the church bells were ringing again. The bands were playing, and even the noon whistle was blowing, early.

He stood and watched proudly as She passed by. The sunlight catching the flash of crimson and white, stars blazing in the clear blue sky.

And then She was gone.

And he looked down through three generations into his grandson's eyes, and said, "There she goes, son. We used to call her Old Glory."


Next Issue. Thirty days hath June, April, Faith, Hope, and Charity, or something like that. 30 June is the fifth Monday of this month, so the next issue of The Legend-News will be published on 7 July, just in time for you to recover from the long July 4th weekend, you lucky person, you.

As for what will be in that issue, well, beats us. We're making this up as we go along. See you in twenty-one.


The Legend-News is published fortnightly — unless the fortnight is the fifth Monday, in which case it's published fortnightly-and-a-half — by TechRen Enterprises, over the river and through the woods. Contents Copyright 2003 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music. "Don't you have rats in Spain, or did Franco have them all shot?"