We were spending the night with friends during our vacation trip, but after we settled into the extra bedroom, which was normally a home office, I just about suffered a panic attack.
You see, I had not brought a book in from the car, and the only reading materials in the room were manuals, yearbooks and the like.
I had my reading glasses, but nothing to read. How would I ever be able to sleep?
My wife wouldn’t share her book. (We have different tastes, anyway.)
Then I spotted it. A Webster’s college dictionary, thick and heavy, tucked among the other reference works on the shelf. Any port in a storm, right?
I let it fall open, and my eyes fell on an unfamiliar word that, I learned, had something to do with toothlike fossils.
“Teeth” got me to thinking about tusks, so I flipped back to “E” to read the entry about elephants. It told me there are two species – African and Indian (or Asian) – and that the African elephant has bigger ears. I knew that already, but I didn’t know that whereas both male and female African elephants grow tusks, only some Indian elephants have the big ivories.
Seeing the elephants reminded me of their predecessors, so I looked up “mastodon” and “mammoth” to learn the differences between them. There were plenty.
From there, I turned to the geologic epochs when those two beasts lived and died (Pleistocene and Holocene).
And so it went. One dictionary entry sent me searching for another until my eyelids grew as heavy as that college edition.
The next morning, my wife arose before I did, and I found that my choice of reading material was the topic over breakfast. That’s all right, though. Nobody could tell me the difference between a mammoth and a mastodon, so what did they know?
MORE CREDITS: Last week, when I wrote about how much I enjoy the credits at the end of movies, I didn’t have room to get into credits on television.
The movie credits spill over onto television, of course, but the boob tube is unkind to them, and to the credits for TV programs.
Have you noticed that, more and more, the end credits are rolling by faster than they used to? And that the announcer talks over the credits of the show that is going off to tell you about the show that is coming up?
Worse, they have begun shrinking the credits and pushing them to one side or to the bottom of the screen so they can show a promo for another program. I’ve even seen them fill half the screen with the end credits and the other half with the opening credits to the new program.
All of that makes the credits nigh impossible to read, and don’t all those folks who worked on the movies deserve some kind of, well, credit?