Bob Hope turns 100, thanks to golf and laughter

# 275, May 28, 2003

COLUMBUS: Jack Nicklaus is hosting his annual golf tournament next door to us in Dublin. He says Annika will be welcome anytime she qualifies. She didn’t, so Tiger figures it’s safe for him to play here.

Annika didn’t do as well as she hoped in the Colonial last week. But she beat a dozen men and earned the respect of the others. She didn’t win, but she came out of Ft. Worth a whole lot better off than Martha Burk at the Masters. Folks are comparing her to that all-around great athlete Babe Didrickson Zeharias. She didn’t win any golf championships against men either, but that didn’t stop her from taking them on more than once. Perhaps if Annika takes up swimming, running hurdles and a couple of other sports, she can get her golf game on a par with Babe.

I read in the paper where Saudi Arabia is asking its Muslim clerics to stop preaching against Jews and Christians. That’s almost as big as the news that Sharon is ready to recognize the Palestinians. Either one, if it happens, could go a long way toward improving civilization. If Muslims quit preaching against Christians, maybe we can get our conservative Christians to give up preaching against Democrats.

Bob Hope, our greatest entertainer for the last two-thirds of the twentieth century, turns 100 tomorrow. He was born in England, but his family moved to Cleveland when he was 4, and Cleveland is a good place to be from if you want to be a comedian. From small shows he got into vaudeville, then movies, and on to radio in 1938 for NBC. He stayed with NBC for 62 years. Most of us find it hard to stick with one network for 30 minutes.

Bob always had a talent for comedy, and he had another skill– hiring great writers. Sure he had writers, but no matter how many comedy writers he hired, he was always the head writer.

And he had golf, and was always ready to play a round (or around, according to some folks).

You might surmise from Bob Hope that the secret of long life is golf and laughter. I ain’t so sure golf contributes to longevity, but any golfer that can’t laugh at his own game would be well advised to write an early epitaph.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.” WA #49, Nov. 18, 1923

“Golfers are a cheerful lot, win or lose, wives and all. They laugh it off, take the husband home, dress him up and send him back for another beating on the morrow. But don’t kid yourself Comrades that there is nothing to this game. Put $3500 smackers down and tell us we had one putt to win it. I think I would be so nervous I would pick up the caddy and swing him at it.” WA #366, Dec. 29, 1929

“About all that there is to prominent men nowadays is their golf. It has always been a mystery to me how our old time men ever got even as good as they were without golf. Just imagine if Lincoln had had golf to add to his other accomplishments. There is a boy you would have been proud of.” WA #15, March 23, 1923

Orange Alert means “wear clean socks to airport”

May 21, 2003

KANSAS CITY: It’s been raining quite a bit here, and the farmers are glad. And not just in Missouri and Kansas, but all across our middle west. They tell me most of the corn and soybeans were planted in April, so this rain is just what the crops need to get off to a good start.

This country is back on Orange Alert. I can’t remember if that means we need to stock up on duct tape, but one thing is certain, if you’re flying, you had better wear clean socks. These airport security folks are not about to let anyone sneak on a plane with explosives in their shoes. You take off your shoes and they run ’em through an x-ray, and maybe a microwave oven and pasteurizer. All I know is, when my leather boots came out they had more shine than usual, and not a trace of black powder, dynamite, or mad cow disease.

Down in Ft. Worth, Texas, home of “my” old friend Amon Carter, Annika Sorenstam is taking on the men tomorrow in a golf tournament. Every man on the course has just two goals; win the championship, and above all, don’t finish behind Annika.

Tiger Woods called her to wish her luck. Yes, and you’ll notice that Tiger had the good sense not to play against her this week. He’s going to let Phil Mickelson and the rest of the boys sweat this one out in the Texas heat.

The New York Times has been in the news (rather than reporting the news), because of a reporter named Jayson Blair. That’s where the problems started; he called himself a reporter instead of a humorist. See, a humorist is allowed to exaggerate, or even encouraged. Now mind you, good humor is still based on fact.

Where a good reporter writes down every word, or records it, a humorist just hears something and remembers it the best he can. And sometimes he remembers it funnier than it was said. This is not only accepted for a humorist, it’s applauded.

But a reporter, if he makes up a quote or a fact, or claims he is in Washington interviewing the President when he’s really sitting on his back porch on Long Island, well it just isn’t done. So Jason Blair is not a reporter, and probably never was.

Is he a humorist? I don’t know, but nobody at the Times is laughing.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

(Will started writing his “Daily Telegrams” at the request of New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs in July 1926. Within weeks they were appearing in 600 newspapers, 6 days a week, through the McNaught syndicate. But the Times was not always pleased with Will’s writing. On at least two occasions they did not print his column, and once they wrote a condescending editorial half-apologizing for Will’s views. A few days later Will got the last word with the following DT, which of course was published across the whole country.)

“I would like to state to the readers of THE NEW YORK TIMES that I am in no way responsible for the editorial or political policy of this paper. I allow them free rein as to their opinion, so long as it is within the bounds of good subscription gathering.
But I want it distinctly understood that their policy may be in direct contrast to mine. Their editorials may be put in purely for humor, or just to fill space. Every paper must have its various entertaining features, and their editorials are not always to be taken seriously, and never to be construed as my policy.”
 DT #1979, Dec. 7, 1932

Oklahoma opens arms to Texas Democrats May 14, 2003

COLUMBUS: Bin Ladin struck again, this time in his home territory. He’s as hard to track down as Pancho Villa. Of course up to now the Saudis have been as much interested in fighting him as the French are, and just as effective. But his goose will get cooked one of these days.

This tragedy comes from al-Qaida. But our country’s comedy this week is courtesy of the Texas Legislature. It seems the Democratic arm of that august body is tired of being bossed around by the Republicans. So they high-tailed it across the Red River to hide out in a Holiday Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

You may wonder, why Oklahoma?

Well, they couldn’t go to Louisiana because folks there still remember when Texas passed a law in 1931 calling their Governor Huey Long a liar.

Couldn’t go to New Mexico… half those Democrats don’t know there’s anything west of west Texas except sagebrush. Some of them don’t even know there’s anything in west Texas. Their appropriations never make it past San Antonio.

Pensacola, Florida, had a certain appeal for some of those ole boys, but they wisely skipped that idea. Too risky. Besides, Florida is riled up over a test you have to take to get out of high school, and I have my doubts some of these legislators could pass it.

Oklahoma is glad to have ’em. They can stay as long as they want to, just as long as they don’t run for anything. We’re even willing to let other states send us their legislatures. Imagine if this idea grows and they all follow Texas’ lead. What a wonderful spring break the rest of you folks would have.

Now if the U.S. Congress decides to send us their Democrats, well, that’s expecting a bit much of Oklahoma generosity.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“There is nothing that will upset a state economic condition like a legislature. It’s better to have termites in your house than the legislature (in session).” Radio broadcast, March 31, 1935

“I got to thinking that I dident have much material, so I decided as I was starting in Texas that I better drop by Austin where the State Legislature was in session and get some material. Well that’s why I chose it, and it was a Godsend to me. It turned out great, not that the Texas Legislature is especially humorous. It’s not, it’s just average, in fact I think they got a pretty good body there, as Legislatures go. They just hadent done anything, which made them on a par with all others.” WA #425, Feb. 15, 1931

“Spoke before the (Texas) Legislature, but a comedian getting up before one of those bodies of men is just lost. It would be like Rudy Vallee trying to sing before an audience composed of all grand opera singers. He would just be outclassed, and that’s the way I was.” DT #1407, Jan. 26, 1931

Supreme Court rules against lying on the telephone

May 8, 2003

COLUMBUS: The Supreme Court took a stand this week on honesty. They ruled that from now on these folks that call you asking for money have to tell the truth. Telemarketers cannot make “false statements with the intent to mislead the listener.” That’s good, as far as it goes, but if those old Justices really want to satisfy America they should apply the same rule to used car salesmen, Wall Streeters and politicians.

Ohio came up with a solution to their budget problem. It’s the same one used down through the ages, they passed a tax. The legislature put on a one-cent sales tax to start in July. They say it is a temporary tax, but one senator already wants to make it permanent. This may be the first time in history a temporary tax becomes permanent even before it has a chance to be temporary.

The legislature went one step farther. In November they’ll let everyone vote on whether they prefer to keep the one-cent sales tax, or install slot machines at the horse tracks. These legislators are shrewd… they give you a choice between a tax, and a tax. There’s no place on the ballot for “none of the above”. Of course, one tax is on people with money who spend it; the other is on people without money, who spend it anyway.

There’s a man over in Springfield that’s been working for the same company, building trucks, since 1937. Then last month he got laid off. Times may be tough, but seniority ought to be worth something. Think how insecure that makes the fellows feel who have only been there 50 or 60 years.

Unemployment is up to 6 percent, and it looks a lot worse to Democrats than it does to Republicans. Candidates are howling about the economy. But you know, it kinda skews the picture when you’ve got 9 of them going after one job. For at least 8 of them it’ll look even worse after the election.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“We cuss the lawmakers. No matter whether it’s state or national legislature, we cuss ’em. But I notice we’re always perfectly willin’ to share in any of the sums of money that they might distribute. You know what I mean. We cuss ’em for distributing it, but we’re always there when it’s handed out.” Radio broadcast, April 7, 1935