StoryCorps – 10 Years of Tales and Tears

StoryCorps image courtesy of
StoryCorps mobile unit — image courtesy of

If you’re a regular listener of “Morning Edition” on National Public Radio (NPR), then you’ve probably wept and laughed – but mostly wept – after listening to the weekly short segments of oral histories known as StoryCorps.

NPR marked the 10-year anniversary of StoryCorps this past week, featuring daily segments of oral histories NPR had aired in the past, including “where are they now?” updates. It was almost too much to bear.


Because I love StoryCorps, and I hate StoryCorps. Continue reading “StoryCorps – 10 Years of Tales and Tears”

March on Washington 50th Anniversary – What Would Lois Say?

MLK I Have A Dream Speech
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” — MLK 8/28/63

From August 23rd to the 28th, tens of thousands of people descended on Washington, DC, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, made famous by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The nearly week-long festivities culminated on August 28th when President Barack Obama gave a speech on those same steps in front of the Great Emancipator.

Throughout it all, I kept asking myself, what would Lois say? Continue reading “March on Washington 50th Anniversary – What Would Lois Say?”

Eco-Goats Graze to Save Gravesites

Eco-goats to the rescue!
Eco-goats to the rescue!

What does an historic Washington, DC cemetery do when invasive plants threaten the trees along its perimeter?

Call in the Eco-goats, of course!

I “kid” you not. These “living lawnmowers” are based in Annapolis, Maryland, and are rented out to provide “environmentally friendly vegetation control” that is sustainable, low-impact and cost effective. Continue reading “Eco-Goats Graze to Save Gravesites”

By George! The Royal Baby’s Excellent Name

You didn’t peg me for a Royalist, did you?

Well, I’m not.

The royal baby needs to work on his royal wave.
The royal baby needs to work on his royal wave.

But I’m not above getting my knickers in a twist when it comes to the UK’s favorite royals, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the birth of their new baby.

The baby’s name is George Alexander Louis, and his official title is “His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.” He’s third in line to the British throne.

Some Americans were all “Whaaa?” about the name “George,” saying it’s stuffy and old fashioned.

I think it’s excellent.

The choice of name wasn’t even a surprise. “George” was the 2-1 favorite according to British bookies, who raked in $2.46 million in baby name bets alone, which averaged about $10 per bet (source).

But I am surprised at how much I like the name. Then again, I shouldn’t be. I’m used to it.

British bookies raked it in as "commoners" rushed to place bets on the royal baby's name.
British bookies raked it in as “commoners” rushed to place bets on the royal baby’s name.

My oldest brother’s name is George, my father’s name was George, and his father’s name was George. They weren’t George Holder III, II, and I, however, because they each had different middle names. Also, I think because my grandfather didn’t like the idea of creating a “Jr.” or a “II” and neither did my dad.

[Side-note: Three Georges is nothing compared to the six Marys in my immediate family! It’s similar to George Foreman naming his five sons “George,” ironically… I’ll save explaining the Mary madness for another post.]

George is a good name. It’s also a fairly common surname. It’s short, easy to pronounce, and strong.

It has fun female derivatives: Georgette; Georgia; Georgina; Georgiana.

It’s old. Wikipedia says the name derived from the ancient Greek word γεωργός (geōrgos), “earth-worker” or “farmer,” which became a name in Greek: Γεώργιος (Geōrgios), or in Latin, Georgius.

It’s multi-national. In Spanish, George is Jorge; in Italian, it’s Giorgio; in German, it’s Georg, Jörg, or Jürgen (“J” pronounced like “y”); in Russian, it’s Yuri.

In French, the name is plural, I don’t know why and Google is no help. I also think it sounds the best: “Georges” is pronounced “Zhorzh.” It rolls off the tongue like a fine French Bourdeaux.

The crazy exterior of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
The crazy exterior of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Georges Pompidou is one of the great French names. Pompidou was Prime Minister and later President of France in the 1960s and early 70s. Today he’s probably best known for the eponymous and ugly Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which is a library and modern art museum whose exterior looks inside-out.

“George” is distinguished – some of my favorite famous people – both real and fake – are named George.

George Washington, George Eliot, George Carlin, George Harrison, George Clooney, George of the Jungle, Curious George, George Oscar “GOB” Bluth and his father, George Bluth, Sr.

Then there’s the Seinfeld character, George Louis Costanza, famously played by Jason Alexander. Take away “Jason” and “Costanza” and rearrange the other names, and we’re back to the royal baby’s name!


I say not. I say the Cambridges are huge Seinfeld fans… Who isn’t?

Our George kicked some royal butt.
Our George kicked some royal butt!

But nooo, royalists would argue. “George,” “Alexander,” and “Louis” are names that hold personal and historical significance for the British royal family.

So far, there have been six King George’s atop the British crown, starting with George I who ruled from 1714 to 1727. Thus the name became popular and habitual among the royals. And let’s not forget that St. George is the patron saint of England.

“Alexander,” it’s been speculated, was perhaps chosen as a nod to the three kings of Scotland who bore the name, as well as the strong association between “Alexander” and “The Great,” as in the ancient Greek ruler.

“Louis” may well have been chosen in honor of Louis Mountbatten, who was the uncle of Queen Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Phillip. Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA in 1979 – royal names evoke triumphs as well as personal tragedies.

But I say poppy-cock to all that talk of historical significance! I still think the royal baby was named after George Costanza.

Why? For one thing, the royals can afford to follow Costanza’s ethos of laziness:

George Costanza, royal inspiration??
George Costanza, royal inspiration?

Instead of doing a wash, I just keep buying underwear. My goal is to have over 360 pair. That way I only have to do wash once a year. – George Costanza, Season 2 of Seinfeld

And – let’s face it – there’s this:

My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter, I was raised to give up. It’s one of the few things I do well. – George Costanza, Season 4 of Seinfeld

Yup, the royal baby’s name is perfect!