Sunday, February 01

 

Tuesday, January 27

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Does the Word "Gringo" Come from Songs of the Mexican-American War?

Etymology rule of thumb: as well-known stories about word origins become more and more "fun" and improbable, the likelihood that they are true approaches zero. Take the word gringo, a scornful Spanish slang word for anglo types. According to an oft-told story, gringo dates back to the Mexican-American War, when American soldiers were frequently overheard singing marching songs like "Green Grow the Rushes" and "Green Grow the Lilacs." Gringo is actually a corruption of the words "green grow," this theory would have you believe.

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Monday, January 26

Music Monday: The Manson Conviction

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Today, in 1971, Charles Manson and his girls were found guilty of the Tate-LaBianca murders and sent to prison. Charles Manson was kinda the only rock star-friendly serial killer, since he was gently connected to the music scene before heading out into the desert with his followers. There might be more music connected to him than to any other killer (excepting Jerry Lee Lewis, of course) so today we're gonna pay tribute to his conviction. Unusual? Possibly. Historically interesting? Very much so.

The Beach Boys - Never Learn Not To Love

 

Who wrote this song on paper? Why, Dennis Wilson, of course! It's just a coincidence that it sounds weirdly similar this Charles Manson song that Manson wrote while staying at the Dennis Wilson house. You can probably guess that the Beach Boys have never played this one on the White House lawn. Wonder why, huh?

There's more historical discussion to come, after the jump.

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Tuesday, January 20

The Debunker: Did Jesse James's Gang Rob from the Rich and Give to the Poor?

by Ken Jennings

In January, we stand at the frontier of a new year. Obviously, there's no better month to remember that other mythic uncharted territory, the American frontier of the Old West! In the Western classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a newspaper editor famously says, "This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." But that attitude has led to a lot of frontier lore that's just plain loco. We've asked Jeopardy gunfighter Ken Jennings to separate fact from legend--and print only the facts. Let's see if he can clean up this town.

The Debunker: Did Jesse James's Gang Rob from the Rich and Give to the Poor?

In 1882, the famed outlaw Jesse James was shot in the back by one of his gang members, Robert Ford (Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, if you saw the movie). The shooting was immortalized in the folk song "Jesse James," which takes a strongly pro-Jesse/anti-Ford stance. Robert Ford is dismissed as a "dirty little coward," while Jesse James is lauded because "he stole from the rich and he gave to the poor." "He'd never see a man suffer pain," insists the star-struck balladeer. "He'd never rob a mother or child." The song, covered by everyone from Woody Guthrie to Bruce Springsteen, has cemented in the public mind the notion that Jesse James was a colorful do-gooder. Sure, maybe he was an outlaw, but the noble Robin Hood kind! A likable rascal!

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Monday, January 19

Music Monday: Happy Birthday To...

by Scott Lydon


Happy Music Monday! Do you even know how many musicians were born on January 19th? The answer is ALL OF THEM! So Scott's picked five birthday-havers you might know of and enjoy today. Here's the first...

Dolly Parton - Jolene

 

She was an odd mix of stylish purity and trashy hillbilly well before Miley jumped on that train. Dolly Parton has always, and will always be cool. Her pop songs are reasonably okay, her country songs are excellent, and she even covered Stairway To Heaven! She's a national treasure and everybody should wish her a great birthday. PERIOD.

More famous musicians listed inside. Come join the birthday party!

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Friday, January 16

A Crappy Change

by Sam Kemmis

Adam Smith said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” And, if he had lived in today’s world, he almost certainly would have added “erstwhile deal-a-day e-commerce subsidiaries” to that list. 

Which is all highfalutin preamble to saying that we’re raising the price of the Bag Of Crap by $2 and not improving the quality whatsoever

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Thursday, January 15

 

Wednesday, January 14