5. The Multiple Learning Curve


This endeavor, as the saying goes, is a learning experience.  As in the sense of a button I saw years ago, which said, “Oh, NO!  Not another learning experience!”

If I mention one other datum, you might have a better idea comprehending my initial statement.  This endeavor is also an exercise in OCD.  These entries are crossposted to four different blogging sites — Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogspot, and WordPress, not to mention that notifications of new entries are posted to my Facebook page.  Learning the various quirks of each site, and trying to overcome said quirks, can be just a little . . . well, I would have to say that the feeling is somewhere between “irritating” and “annoying.”

Getting things to look the way I want on each site has probably been the first learning curve.  As you might well imagine, each of the sites has its own ways for customizing the look of an individual blog.  So far, Xanga has been the easiest to nudge, tweak, or otherwise sledgehammer into looking the way I want.  I selected its most no-frills approach, and after that, it was merely a matter of adjusting the colors.  I may still need to adjust a color or two a little, but I think I have that site looking the way I like it.

With LiveJournal, I believe I may have looked at just about every theme they offer before I selected one — and looked through them again when I decided that I did not like my first choice after all.  I need to adjust the color on the links, but I believe that it should not be too difficult a task.

I am still trying to find a look that I like on both Blogspot and WordPress.  I have not yet found anything that I can say that I like; it is more a case of going with something that I do not overly dislike.  I may have to spend a few hours looking at all the alternatives on each site, then seeing how I might be able to customize a choice.

(Incidentally, if you are curious enough to wonder how each site looks, that can be easily satisfied.  My username on each site is the same — “jamesnorcross.”  Simply go to the address bar of your browser, and replace the site where you are currently viewing — be it Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogspot, or WordPress — with one of the others.)

While getting the look right for each site has been interesting, I have been more surprised by how the last two entries looked when I posted them.  I write the entry first, then copy and paste the text into a “New Entry” page on each site.  And I adjust the time so that it is the same for each site.  (I did mention that this was an exercise in OCD, did I not?)

When I posted “Sum Qui Sum, Et Qui Omnis Sum,” the entry included the code for the results of the online quiz I took.  With Xanga and LiveJournal, the images of the results posted just as I thought they would.  With Blogspot and WordPress, however, the images did not appear.  Instead, what you see are the blocks of code that should have been translated into the images.  There must be a simple reason why everything did not post correctly, but I am still trying to determine what that reason might be.

I had a different surprise when I posted “The Pledge, According To Red And The Duke.”  Each site handles the posting of links a little differently.  LiveJournal makes the links automatically; Xanga and Blogspot need a little nudging to change plain text into a link.  The big surprise was when the entry posted on WordPress.  Instead of the expected links, what actually appeared were the videos from YouTube.

As I said, I am trying to master multiple learning curves at the same time, and hoping that I will not be too surprised by what I might see once I click the “Save” button.



4. The Pledge, According To Red And The Duke


When you hear the name Red Skelton, the first thing that most likely comes to mind is comedy.  And while he was a master of comedy, something that I remember even more about Red Skelton is his explanation of the Pledge Of Allegiance.

A few days ago, I discovered a video clip of this performance on YouTube.  I am not particularly surprised that it is on YouTube (in multiple versions, no less); I am perhaps more surprised that I did not think to search for it earlier.  According to the introduction on one clip, Skelton first performed the sketch on his CBS variety show on January 14, 1969.  That introduction also mentioned that it has been read into the Congressional Record twice.

In the performance, Skelton talked about his grade school principal, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Lasswell, and how one day Mr. Lasswell lectured the students following the recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance.  Mr. Lasswell had the impression that the students were finding the recitation monotonous.  “If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word.”

With that, he began to break down the Pledge phrase by phrase, word by word, explaining the meaning behind each word and phrase.  Mr. Lasswell’s words certainly had an impact on Skelton, for him to remember them so clearly decades later.

Skelton ended the performance by saying, “Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge Of Allegiance — ‘Under God.’  Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer, and that would be eliminated from schools, too?”  I would think that this calmly stated line from this gentle man has to be the most stinging rebuke ever delivered to those who feel that freedom of religion means freedom from religion.

As I have said, I found multiple versions of this performance on YouTube.  The link below, however, probably has the best audio and video quality:

I am somewhat uncertain as to how I stumbled across this performance.  When I did, though, I found a link to another interpretation of the Pledge Of Allegiance, this one by John Wayne.  It starts with the Duke reciting the Pledge.  Then, as a chorus begins reciting it again, he asks, “What do those words mean to you?”  He then proceeds to give his own phrase-by-phrase breakdown of the Pledge.  One line that I particularly like describes America as “A land where . . . the ballot box is the sword, and the people, its wielder.”  Wayne’s description is different from Skelton’s, but no less accurate.  His interpretation can be found here:

There is one other version of the Pledge Of Allegiance that I found while watching the above two interpretations.  This one features Don La Fontaine, the narrator of probably thousands of movie trailers.  If you have ever heard a trailer that begins, “In a world where . . . ,” then you are familiar with La Fontaine and his distinctive voice.  This one does not have any interpretation, just La Fontaine reciting the Pledge, and the US Army Band playing in the background: