Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 51, 2020

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The Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773

The Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773

The Boston Tea Party: In Boston Harbor, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the harbor.

The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party”, was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the East India Company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as another example of taxation tyranny.

When three tea ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor, and the Beaver, arrived in Boston Harbor, the colonists demanded that the tea be returned to England. After Massachusetts Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused, Patriot leader Samuel Adams organized the “tea party” with about 60 members of the Sons of Liberty, his underground resistance group. The British tea dumped in Boston Harbor on the night of December 16 was valued at some $18,000.

Parliament, outraged by the blatant destruction of British property, enacted the Coercive Acts, also known as the Intolerable Acts, in 1774. The Coercive Acts closed Boston to merchant shipping, established formal British military rule in Massachusetts, made British officials immune to criminal prosecution in America, and required colonists to quarter British troops. The colonists subsequently called the first Continental Congress to consider a united American resistance to the British.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / Constitution Center.org / Boston Tea Partyship / Massachusetts Historical Society / The Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 (YouTube) video

Battle of the Bulge begins on December 16, 1944

Battle of the Bulge begins on December 16, 1944

Battle of the Bulge begins: On December 16, 1944, the Germans launch the last major offensive of World War II, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge, so-called because the Germans created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American defensive line, was the largest fought on the Western front.

The Germans threw 250,000 soldiers into the initial assault, 14 German infantry divisions guarded by five panzer divisions-against a mere 80,000 Americans. Their assault came in early morning at the weakest part of the Allied line, an 80-mile poorly protected stretch of hilly, woody forest (the Allies simply believed the Ardennes too difficult to traverse, and therefore an unlikely location for a German offensive). Between the vulnerability of the thin, isolated American units and the thick fog that prevented Allied air cover from discovering German movement, the Germans were able to push the Americans into retreat.

Battle of the Bulge begins on December 16, 1944 (The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull, showing Captain William Washington, with a wounded hand, on the right and Lt. Monroe, severely wounded and helped by Dr. John Riker)

One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications. The ploy caused widespread chaos and suspicion among the American troops as to the identity of fellow soldiers–even after the ruse was discovered. Even General Omar Bradley himself had to prove his identity three times–by answering questions about football and Betty Grable–before being allowed to pass a sentry point.

The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy. Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war’s end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.” The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the American Civil War.

The war would not end until better weather enabled American aircraft to bomb and strafe German positions.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Encyclopedia Britannica / ARMY.mil / The National WW2 Museum.org / Imperial War Museum (Great Britain) / United States Memorial Holocaust Encyclopedia USHMM.org / Library Of Congress.gov / Battle of the Bulge begins on December 16, 1944 (YouTube) video

“This Day in History”

This Day in History December 16

• 1777 American Revolutionary War: Virginia becomes the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

• 1864 American Civil War: Battle of Nashville: Major General George Thomas's Union forces defeat Lieutenant General John Bell Hood's Confederate Army of Tennessee.

• 1907 The American Great White Fleet begins its circumnavigation of the world.

• 1912 First Balkan War: Battle of Elli: Royal Hellenic Navy defeats the Ottoman Navy.

• 1914 World War I: Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby: an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British ports of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool and Whitby.

• 1941 World War II: The Holocaust: Schutzstaffel chief Heinrich Himmler orders that Roma candidates for extermination be deported to Auschwitz.

• 1950 Korean War: Second Phase Offensive: U.S. President Harry S. Truman declares a limited state of emergency.

Understanding Military Terminology: At the Marine Corps Museum: Norman Rockwell's “The War Hero”

Understanding Military Terminology

Petroleum, oils, and lubricants

(DOD) A broad term that includes all petroleum and associated products used by the Armed Forces.

Also called POL.

Joint Publications (JP 4-01.6) Joint Logistics Over the Shore


In joint operation planning, a definitive stage of an operation or campaign during which a large portion of the forces and capabilities are involved in similar or mutually supporting activities for a common purpose.

Joint Publications (JP 5-0) Joint Planning

Phase Line

A line utilized for control and coordination of military operations, usually an easily identified feature in the operational area.

Also called PL.

Joint Publications (JP 3-09) Joint Fire Support

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships - Legend of Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs”

The Old Salt’s Corner

“Tales of Legendary Ghost Ships”

Legend of the Fireship of Baie des Chaleurs

The most common explanation of what ship haunts the area involves two 16th century Portuguese explorers and traders, Gaspar Cort-Real and his brother Miguel, who were seeing a profit trading trinkets with the locals, decided that trading of the locals was a better deal. They invited a group of natives aboard, got them liquored up, chained them below deck and took them back to Portugal to be sold as slaves.

The year following the kidnappings, Gaspar Cort-Real returned to the area for a new load but a welcome wagon of nasty was out to greet him. The locals tied Gaspar to a rock at low tied and had a picnic while watching the rising waters slowly take his life. When Miguel returned to Chaleur to find his overdue brother, he was happy to see Gaspar’s ship at anchor in the bay. When he and his men boarded the ship the locals, who had laid in waiting, attacked Miguel’s men. In a desperate attempt to flee, Miguel set the ship ablaze and vowed, with his last breath that his spirit would roam the Bay of Chaleur “for a thousand years”.

The night was gloomy and dark with a heavy sleet falling and bitter cold wind blowing. The river was many feet above normal, only the tops of the trees growing on the low banks showing above the water. Then came the alarming cry of fire. This cry was screamingly repeated when one person after another made the horrible discovery that the boat was afire. There was an immediate panic.

Another story involved the Battle of Restigouche. The Battle of Restigouche was a naval battle fought during the French and Indian War of 1760 between elements of the British Royal Navy and the small flotilla of French Navy vessels sent to relieve New France after the fall of Quebec. It marked the end of any serious attempt by France to keep hold of their colonies in North America, and it severely curtailed any hopes for a lengthy resistance to the British by the French forces that remained. The carnage on both sides of the naval battle almost ensured that some poor soul would get lost and wander the Bay for an eternity.

Another story is also told of a virgin bride who was abducted and ravaged by a visiting ship’s crew. In retribution for this dastardly act, the culprits found their ship engulfed in flames and their souls doomed to forever sail the waters of Chaleur Bay aboard the fiery vessel.

There are less fanciful explanations of the phenomenon of course. Some believe it is a combination of escaping gases, atmospheric conditions, and changing currents. Local historian W. F. Ganong suggested it was a version of St. Elmo’s Fire.

Who knows the truth? It doesn’t matter, really. Never let facts get in the way of a good story.

Mysteries of Canada / Wikipedia

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

“If you aren't in over your head,

how do you know how tall you are?”

“Between the idea and the reality,

between the motion and the act,

falls the shadow.”

“What we call the beginning is often the end.

And to make an end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.”

~ T.S. Eliot

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”

“If you fell down yesterday,

stand up today.”

“I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.”

~ H. G. Wells

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Learned”

“Things may come to those who wait,

but only the things left by those who hustle.”

~ Anonymous

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?


When a government declares a state of emergency - or does not make such a declaration - this decision determines the legal and operational resources available to respond to an emergency and has implications for governments, the private sector, and the public. Understanding the scope of state and federal emergency authorities and how they interact is an important part of preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

State Emergency Declarations

Authorities Without an Emergency Declaration

State officials have existing broad powers to address emergency situations by virtue of the statutory authorities granted to their positions without formally declaring a state of emergency. A state health officer’s existing authorities generally contain a broad grant of authority to, among other things, abate nuisances, investigate the causes of disease, and institute quarantine measures. Depending on the circumstances of an event, these existing powers may be sufficient to adequately respond or allow initial response measures to begin until an emergency is declared. Identifying authorities and capabilities to respond to emergencies without a declaration may be necessary should an event not meet the statutory definition required to trigger an emergency declaration.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

Authority to Declare Emergencies

When conditions warrant, all states have mechanisms that allow government officials to declare a state of emergency, thereby activating authorities and resources that are unavailable in non-emergencies (see below). All states give the governor the authority to declare one or more types of emergencies (see below). Increasingly states have granted state health officers/agency directors the authority to declare public health emergencies. Other state officials such as the emergency management agency director, homeland security director, or agricultural director may have similar powers. Local governments may have authority to declare an emergency and activate emergency authorities within their jurisdiction.

Types of State Emergencies

The determination of whether circumstances justify or require the declaration of an emergency depends on conditions set out in state law. Traditionally states have a general statute that permits the governor to declare a state of emergency for any type of emergency or natural disaster, which can be construed broadly to include disease epidemics and other public health emergencies. In the last decade, states have begun to refine their approaches to defining emergencies; a state may have one or more statutory definitions to define emergencies, including “disaster”, “emergency”, and “public health emergency°. In states with multiple types of emergencies, it may be possible to have more than one type of emergency declared at the same time. If so, state officials must clearly understand the authorities that flow from each declaration, agency roles and responsibilities, and the impacts on local governments, the private sector, and the public.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

State Emergency Declaration Process

While unique to each state, generally the governor may declare an emergency by issuing an executive order or other declaration to that effect. The declaration addresses the effective dates and duration of the declaration, geographic areas of the state covered, conditions giving rise to the emergency, and the agency or agencies leading the response activities. The declaration may also identify state rules and regulations that are waived or suspended during the emergency. Governors may be required to seek legislative approval for the imposition of a state of emergency within a given time after the declaration (e.g., within 30 days).

Alternatively, a governor may be able to declare a state of emergency for a specified period of time, but then would need legislative approval to renew the emergency declaration. For emergencies declared by other state executive officers like state health officers, such declarations may require simultaneous or subsequent approval by the governor and/or legislature. Locally declared emergencies may require approval by a local legislative body, state executive officers, and/or the state legislature.

Actions and Authorities Triggered by State Emergency Declarations

The declaration of a state emergency triggers an array of authorities and actions by state and/or local governments. Depending on the type of emergency declared, and the scope of authority granted to the state official making the emergency declaration, the actions and authorities engaged by a state emergency declaration can include:

• Activation of state emergency response plans and mutual aid agreements.

• Activation of state emergency operations center and incident command system (ICS).

• Authority to expend funds and deploy personnel, equipment, supplies, and stockpiles.

• Activation of statutory immunities and liability protections for those involved in response activities.

• Suspension and waiver of rules and regulations (and statutes, if allowed).

• Streamlining of state administrative procedures such as procurement requirements.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

Federal Emergency Declarations and Authorities

As with the states, federal law imbues designated federal officials with broad powers that allow them to respond to and assist states and localities in responding to emergencies even without a federal emergency declaration. Thus, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has broad authority under Sections 301 and 311 of the Public Health Service Act to provide assistance to states and localities.2 Federal law also provides the president and other federal officials with authority to declare emergencies under specified conditions. Some of these federal authorities relevant to the public health context include:

• President: Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act.

• HHS Secretary: Public Health Service Act Section 319 and Social Security Act Section 1135.

Actions and Authorities Triggered by Federal Emergency Declarations

Federal emergency declarations activate legal and programmatic responses from federal agencies including:

• Activating federal assistance to states in the form of financial, personnel, services, logistical, and technical assistance.

• Triggering emergency provisions in other laws including Social Security Act Section 1135 waivers and statutory immunities and liability protections, such as the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act).

• Easing regulatory requirements on individuals, organizations, and state and local governments.

• Activating the National Response Framework, National Incident Management System, and other emergency response protocols and systems.

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

Implications of State and Federal Emergency Declarations and Authorities

An emergency declaration can change the legal and operational landscape in which governments, private organizations, and the public operate during an emergency. Emergency declarations, especially if they occur at multiple levels (federal, state, local), can confuse organizations and individuals. All state agencies need to understand the implications of operating under an emergency declaration, especially those that are not directly involved in response activities such as state procurement offices. States must also understand the legal and operational effects of a federal emergency declaration. Federal declarations may affect compliance with federal legal and programmatic requirements. Federal declarations generally do not alter state legislative and regulatory requirements; however, state law will be preempted to the extent it conflicts with federal law. State declarations are necessary to modify states legal requirements.

During H1N1, some states declared emergencies, while neighboring states did not. For some states, the relatively mild severity of the H1N1 influenza pandemic did not rise to the level needed to trigger the statutory requirements for an emergency declaration, or made states conclude that existing authorities were sufficient to handle the response. Differences in states’ decisions to declare an emergency, as well as the federal declaration and World Health Organization pandemic levels, proved confusing for healthcare providers, the private sector, and the public. State agencies were required to clearly communicate the impact of various declarations had in responding to H1N1.

Practice Notes

• Identify the state statutory requirements for declaring emergencies in your state.

• Understand who can declare emergencies, under what circumstances, and the powers that do/do not flow from this declaration.

• Understand the procedures for implementing and the implications of declaring local or regional emergencies within the state and how these compare to statewide emergencies.

• Identify and understand how state requirements are modified when there is a federally declared emergency.

• Understand the legal and programmatic implications where there is no state declaration of emergency but there is a federal declaration of emergency.

• Identify and communicate to relevant audiences the effects of emergency declarations and any changes to regulatory or programmatic activities because of the declaration.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.org / Wikipedia / Public Health Emergency.gov / White House.gov / Mental Floss / Quora / What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean? (YouTube) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Ramp Strike: When an aircraft gets drastically low while attempting to land on a carrier and strikes the “round down”, or stern of the ship, with devastating results.

RAS (Replenishment At Sea): The act or process of moving cargo and fuel from a supply ship to a warship via cable while underway.

Rate Grabber: Enlisted member with the goal of (and succeeding in) making rate (promotion) quickly.

Rating: Refers to an Enlisted man's job description, i.e. Radioman, Electronic's Technician, etc., usually denoted as part of the rank insignia, found in the center of the rank device on the summer, and winter uniforms only.

RATT Shop: lace for flight deck personnel to cool off in the AC and take a nap while they get their “RATT” fixed.

Rats: Short for “mid-rats”.


Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE


There are no acceptable contractions or shortened ways of addressing the following:


Lance Corporal,


Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Sergeant Major,

Warrant Officer/Chief Warrant Officer,


Colonel and


The following may be addressed with permission or informally:

Private First Class as PFC,

Gunnery Sergeant as “Gunny”,

Master Sergeant as “Top”,

Master Gunnery Sergeant as “Master Gunny” or “Master Guns”,

Second Lieutenant or First Lieutenant as “Lieutenant”,

Captain as “Skipper”,

Lieutenant Colonel as “Colonel”, and

Brigadier General, Major General, and Lieutenant General as “General”.

It is inappropriate to abbreviate an enlisted Marine's rank (Staff Sergeant or above) as “Sergeant”, nor can the nickname “sarge” be used.

Appropriate written abbreviations for all ranks can be found on United States Marine Corps rank insignia.

Ratfuck: Taking the best available selection and leaving less desirable alternatives for others.


Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

HSC-5 Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron FIVE - nicknamed the “Nightdippers”

United States Navy Naval Air Station - Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC), Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia / Squadron Lineage: HC-5: January 3, 1956 - February 28, 2009 / HSC-5: February 28, 2009 - present.

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth:

Meaning: The proverb 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' expresses the notion that for every wrong done there should be a compensating measure of justice.

History: The proverb comes from the Code of Hammurabi. Hammurabi was King of Babylon, 1792-1750BC. The code survives today in the Akkadian language.

The phrase is also used in the Bible, in Matthew 5:38 (King James Version):

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”

An anonymous modern saying, which is widely attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, is:

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”.

While this quotation is very much in the style of others by Gandhi, there's no evidence that he ever said it.

Phrases.org UK

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Scientists try 'cloud brightening' to protect Great Barrier ReefExtinction of threatened marine megafauna would lead to huge loss in functional diversityImpacts on asteroids produce regolith, erase small cratersOn the origin of feces: CoproID reliably predicts sources of ancient poopA lab that reads - and writes - our dreams Phys.org / MedicalXpress / TechXplore

Gravitational waves reveal unprecedented collision of heavy and light black holesControversial ‘gene drive’ could disarm deadly wheat pathogenSword-wielding scientists show how ancient fighting techniques spread across Bronze Age EuropeThe archaeological record is full of dog poopHow does coronavirus kill? Clinicians trace a ferocious rampage through the body, from brain to toes Science AAAS

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good - real news story)

ESO telescope sees star dance around supermassive black hole, proves Einstein rights

ESO telescope sees star dance around supermassive black hole, proves Einstein rights

Source: ESO

Summary: Observations have revealed for the first time that a star orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way moves just as predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity. Its orbit is shaped like a rosette and not like an ellipse as predicted by Newton's theory of gravity. This long-sought-after result was made possible by increasingly precise measurements over nearly 30 years.

“Einstein's General Relativity predicts that bound orbits of one object around another are not closed, as in Newtonian Gravity, but precess forwards in the plane of motion. This famous effect - first seen in the orbit of the planet Mercury around the Sun - was the first evidence in favour of General Relativity. One hundred years later we have now detected the same effect in the motion of a star orbiting the compact radio source Sagittarius A* at the centre of the Milky Way. This observational breakthrough strengthens the evidence that Sagittarius A* must be a supermassive black hole of 4 million times the mass of the Sun”, says Reinhard Genzel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Garching, Germany and the architect of the 30-year-long programme that led to this result.

Located 26,000 light-years from the Sun, Sagittarius A* and the dense cluster of stars around it provide a unique laboratory for testing physics in an otherwise unexplored and extreme regime of gravity. One of these stars, S2, sweeps in towards the supermassive black hole to a closest distance less than 20 billion kilometres (one hundred and twenty times the distance between the Sun and Earth), making it one of the closest stars ever found in orbit around the massive giant. At its closest approach to the black hole, S2 is hurtling through space at almost three percent of the speed of light, completing an orbit once every 16 years.

“After following the star in its orbit for over two and a half decades, our exquisite measurements robustly detect S2's Schwarzschild precession in its path around Sagittarius A*”, says Stefan Gillessen of the MPE, who led the analysis of the measurements published today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Most stars and planets have a non-circular orbit and therefore move closer to and further away from the object they are rotating around. S2's orbit precesses, meaning that the location of its closest point to the supermassive black hole changes with each turn, such that the next orbit is rotated with regard to the previous one, creating a rosette shape. General Relativity provides a precise prediction of how much its orbit changes and the latest measurements from this research exactly match the theory. This effect, known as Schwarzschild precession, had never before been measured for a star around a supermassive black hole.

ESO telescope sees star dance around supermassive black hole, proves Einstein rights

The study with ESO's VLT also helps scientists learn more about the vicinity of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy.

“Because the S2 measurements follow General Relativity so well, we can set stringent limits on how much invisible material, such as distributed dark matter or possible smaller black holes, is present around Sagittarius A*. This is of great interest for understanding the formation and evolution of supermassive black holes”, say Guy Perrin and Karine Perraut, the French lead scientists of the project.

This result is the culmination of 27 years of observations of the S2 star using, for the best part of this time, a fleet of instruments at ESO's VLT, located in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The number of data points marking the star's position and velocity attests to the thoroughness and accuracy of the new research:

“The team made over 330 measurements in total, using the GRAVITY, SINFONI and NACO instruments. Because S2 takes years to orbit the supermassive black hole, it was crucial to follow the star for close to three decades, to unravel the intricacies of its orbital movement.

The research was conducted by an international team led by Frank Eisenhauer of the MPE with collaborators from France, Portugal, Germany and ESO. The team make up the GRAVITY collaboration, named after the instrument they developed for the VLT Interferometer, which combines the light of all four 8-metre VLT telescopes into a super-telescope (with a resolution equivalent to that of a telescope 130 metres in diameter). The[ same team reported in 2018] - another effect predicted by General Relativity: they saw the light received from S2 being stretched to longer wavelengths as the star passed close to Sagittarius A*.

“Our previous result has shown that the light emitted from the star experiences General Relativity. Now we have shown that the star itself senses the effects of General Relativity”, says Paulo Garcia, a researcher at Portugal's Centre for Astrophysics and Gravitation and one of the lead scientists of the GRAVITY project.

With ESO's upcoming Extremely Large Telescope, the team believes that they would be able to see much fainter stars orbiting even closer to the supermassive black hole.

“If we are lucky, we might capture stars close enough that they actually feel the rotation, the spin, of the black hole”, says Andreas Eckart from Cologne University, another of the lead scientists of the project. This would mean astronomers would be able to measure the two quantities, spin and mass, that characterise Sagittarius A* and define space and time around it.

“That would be again a completely different level of testing relativity”, says Eckart.

Science Daily (04/15/2020) video

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“(Oh) Pretty Woman” - Roy Orbison 1964

“(Oh) Pretty Woman” video - Roy Orbison
Album: Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits
Released 1964

Roy Orbison was writing with his songwriting partner Bill Dees at his house when he told Dees to get started writing by playing anything that came to mind. Orbison's wife Claudette came in and said she was going to go into town to buy something. Orbison asked if she needed any money, and Dees cracked, “Pretty woman never needs any money”. Inspired, Orbison started singing, “Pretty woman walking down the street”.

Bill Dees recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh:

“He sang it while I was banging my hand down on the table and by the time she returned we had the song. I love the song. From the moment that the rhythm started, I could hear the heels clicking on the pavement, click, click, the pretty woman walking down the street, in a yellow skirt and red shoes. We wrote “(Oh) Pretty Womanvideo on a Friday, the next Friday we recorded it, and the next Friday it was out. It was the fastest thing I ever saw. Actually, the yeah, yeah, yeah in “Oh Pretty Woman” probably came from The Beatles”.

In the same book Bill Dees recounts how the distinctive growling cry of “Mercy” came about: “I can't do that growl like Roy, but the “Mercy” is mine. I used to say that all the time when I saw a pretty woman or had some good food. Still do.”

Orbison and his wife Claudette had recently reconciled after some tough times, but as this song was climbing the charts, Roy found out she had been cheating on him and filed for divorce. In 1966, they remarried, but two months later Claudette was killed when the motorcycle she was riding was hit by a truck. Orbison faced tragedy again when his two oldest sons died in a fire at his home in 1968. He was on tour at the time.

This was Orbison's last big hit. His career faded fast, but was revived in the '80s when prominent musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and George Harrison cited him as an influence and invited him to join various projects. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame video and joined The Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Tom Petty, Harrison and Jeff Lynne. As he was enjoying this career revival, he died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988 at age 52.

With his dark sunglasses and plaintive voice, Orbison gave the impression that he was always longing and sometimes miserable, which was not the case. Speaking with the NME in 1980, he explained what's going on in this song:

“There's a ballad in the mid-section of it there: he's very sure of getting the girl when he first sees her, and then he's not so sure, and then he gets desperate, and then he says forget it, and then she comes back. It's quite complicated, but it's probably in the presentation, or if I'm really singing like I know I can and I'm doing the job that I should be doing, then it could be that the voice quality in parts has a melancholy something.”

In 1989, the controversial rap group 2 Live Crew recorded a parody of this song video, using the alternate title “Pretty Woman” for their album Clean As They Wanna Be. The Crew sampled the distinctive bassline, but the romantic lyrics were replaced by talk about a hairy woman and her bald-headed friend.

Orbison's publisher, Acuff-Rose Music, sued 2 Live Crew on the basis that the fair use doctrine did not permit reuse of their copyrighted material for profit. The case, Campbell vs. Acuff-Rose Music, went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 7 1994, the Court ruled that 2 Live Crew's parody did not violate federal copyright laws, clarifying that parody constitutes fair use under certain circumstances. A key to the decision is the judgment that 2 Live Crew did not harm the market value of Orbison's original with their parody - in other words, nobody was rejecting “(Oh) Pretty Womanvideo because they could get the 2 Live Crew song instead.

To this point, parody artists either took great care to avoid using copyrighted songs (by writing original backing music or sticking with songs in the public domain) or got permission from the publishers before doing their parodies.

In 1964, Orbison was the only American artist to have a #1 UK hit, and he did it twice - with “(Oh) Pretty Womanvideo and “It's Overvideo.

Roy Orbison official site / Rock & Roll Hall of Fame / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Roy Orbison

Image: “Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits (album)” by Roy Orbison



● Which English word is a combination of the first 2 letters of the Greek alphabet?

Answer to Trivia

● The ancient city of Troy was located in what is now what country?

Answer to Trivia

● In the Western Union's alphabet what is the letter “C” known as?

Answer to Trivia

● Which country grows the most avocados?

Answer to Trivia


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($200)

“A hammer has a specific striking zone while this tool delivers more even pounding (& works great in croquet).”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Home Depot

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($400)

“Used in drafting to measure distances, a divider has 2 sharp points; this similar item has one sharp point & a pencil.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer GeoGebra.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($600)

“A rasp is a coarser type of this other 4-letter tool.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Lowe's

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($800)

“Generally a screw is driven into a surface while this other threaded item is affixed with a matching nut.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Popular Mechanics

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “TOOLS ARE CONFUSING” ($1,000)

“This small kind of gardening spade is shaped more like a scoop.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Ace

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BIG BATTALIONS” ($200)

“Russia leads the world with more than 20,000 of these, like the new T-14 with an automated turret & 125mm cannon.”

● Answer: Tanks. National Interest.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BIG BATTALIONS” ($400)

“The U.S. rules the seas with 11 of these mighty ships, more than the rest of the world's fleets combined.”

● Answer: (What are battleships?) - Aircraft Carriers. NAVY.mil

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BIG BATTALIONS” ($600)

“North Korea has one of the largest fleets of these craft, including the Yono class midget type.”

● Answer: Submarines. National Interest.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BIG BATTALIONS” ($800)

“This country's nearly 2.2 million active military personnel is by far the world's largest standing force.”

● Answer: (What is North Korea?) - China. National Interest.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “THE BIG BATTALIONS” ($1,000)

“Together, these 2 countries that fought a late 1940s war over Kashmir now deploy about 2 million active troops.”

● Answer: India and Pakistan. National Interest.org

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

“Taxi Driver In Heaven”

A priest and a taxi driver both died and went to heaven. Saint Peter was at the Pearly gates waiting for them.

“Come with me”, said Saint Peter to the taxi driver.

The taxi driver did as he was told and followed Saint Peter to a mansion. It had anything you could imagine from a bowling alley to an olympic size pool.

“WOW! Thank You”, said the taxi driver.

Next, Saint Peter led the priest to a rugged old shack with a bunk bed and a little old television set.

“Wait, I think you are a little mixed up”', said the priest.

“Shouldn't I be the one who gets the mansion? After all I was a priest, went to church every day, and preached God's word.”

“Yes, that's true”, said Saint Peter.

“But during your sermons people slept. When the taxi driver drove, everyone prayed.”